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Comments on Agriculture and Food in Crisis

Comments on Agriculture and Food in Crisis (2010, Monthly Review Press) ed. by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar.

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In the period between 2006 and 2008, a world food crisis emerged. Agriculture and Food in Crisis (2010, Monthly Review Press) is an anthology of articles describing the causes and effects of this crisis. The collection is edited by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar. Since the book contains the works of so many authors, many views are presented. The articles contain the typical liberal problems of academic treatments of oppression. Even so, the work contains useful information on how neoliberalism intersects with the growing food crisis, especially in the Third World. Rather than looking at each author, this review comments on useful information found throughout the volume.

Global food shortages have become a major issue, especially for the poorest peoples, those living in the Third World. Food prices are rising. Over the last few years, millions have gone hungry, unable to afford basic nutrition. In the poorest countries, 125 million more people fell into extreme poverty in just the years between 2006 and 2008. Many declared a global food crisis. The World Food Program worried that food reserves would not be able to meet the urgent demand. (33) However, what was not recognized was that this food crisis is part of a larger crisis, the crisis of capitalism itself. Capitalism regularly creates artificial crises. Marx called this the anarchy of capitalist production. The current methods of agricultural production and food distribution, formed and maintained by capitalism, are crises in and of themselves. Global food production is decreasing even though current human needs are not being met, especially in the Third World. Grain and soybeans previously grown for human consumption are being diverted into industrial meat production, factory farms, to maintain profit margins and First World consumption patterns. Third World countries are compelled to accept neoliberal structural-adjustment policies, turning them into food importers. This leads to lower food production and higher food prices in the Third World. Due to depeasantificaiton, one sixth of humanity now lives in slum conditions, mostly in the megacities of the Third World. (10) The transformation of peasants into slumdwellers takes place at the same time as corporate domination of the world’s food system increases on an unprecedented scale. More than one billion people suffer from severe hunger. Nearly two billion more, almost all of the Third World, suffer from food insecurity. (12) The current systems of agriculture production and food distribution are failing at least half of the planet’s people. Yet, even with decreases in food production, the world still produces enough food to feed everyone. (13) Although this should not be taken to mean that either infinite population growth,  population and consumption levels are necessarily sustainable. The work details the grim realities of food production under capitalism today. The global poor cannot compete in terms of purchasing power with multinational corporations, global institutions, and First World states that wish to see the world’s food supply appropriated for meat production, fuel production, or simply consumed by populations in the wealthier countries. The global capitalist economy distributes wealth in a vastly uneven manner both between individuals within countries, and between countries themselves. (14) The current system is unsustainable, ecologically and socially. What most of treatments of the issue fail to understand is that the solutions to such problems require going beyond capitalism itself.

The essays describe how the neoliberal power holders interact to ensure their control of the food system. The IMF and World Bank have both created and maintained the neoliberal policies behind the food crises. Structural adjustment policies, forced upon indebted countries, have contributed to a global “capitalist transformation of the countryside.” (43) Structural adjustment means power accumulates in the hands of the few. A handful of corporations increasingly monopolize the food system. (211) The number of corporations controlling food production and distribution has contracted. Two companies control two-thirds of the world’s grain market. (211) Three companies — Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta — have cornered the commercial seeds trade, controlling 40 percent of that market. (21) These corporations have declared themselves owners of the very seeds that humanity has been forced to rely on by patenting their genetic modifications. Yet their genetically modified crops have not shown increases in yields. (23) Even so, farmers from Mexico to India find themselves forced to purchase these seeds. Once producers, Indian farmers today find themselves as consumers, forced to purchase expensive corporate-owned seeds from landlords and lenders to get by. (46) Moreover, ten companies control 75 percent of the agrochemical market. Thus dependency of growers and the power of corporations are increased. Traditional producers have little options within a global system that is increasingly rigged against them.

Truly free markets are a myth. Despite neoliberal propaganda touting the power of the free market, control of food supplies has been anything but free. Open markets by themselves are not enough for corporations to profit in the Third World. Governments must intervene to ensure and increase corporate profits. The rich countries of the First World rely on subsidizing their own population while muscling Third World states against such policies. Domestic production of food is subsidized by First World governments so too are  crops billed as ecofriendly. The 2008 Mitchell Report, a suppressed report from an economist at the World Bank, alleges that increases in biofuel production in the United States and the EU were to blame for three-fourths of the huge increase in food prices in the years between 2002 and 2008. (36) For the purported reason of “energy independence,” and to placate First Worldist environmentalists, the US government offers subsidies that promote shifting the production of corn to agrofuel, making the shift a profitable venture. (122) In addition, profits are made by exporting subsidized, non-nutritious foods from the First World to the poor countries of Third World. These corporations have had to wage campaigns with state help to change the diets of people in the Third World. For example, people in the Third World seldom consumed wheat. With wheat-producing corporations looking to expand their markets, the US government provided “charitable” wheat for countries that had never produced it. A United Nations report describes similar campaigns. First World states and their corporate allies through “massive marketing and advocacy” made “high-fat, high sugar and low-fiber fast foods and soft drinks” palatable to a new base of consumers in the Third World. Predictably, the influx of these foods and the changing of diet coincided with an “escalating trend” of non-communicable disease in poor countries. (22)

First World government policies have turned food production upside down. Mexico was the first country to domesticate corn. Corn was a staple of Mexico’s ancient indigenous cultures. Corn only reached the “old world” after contact with European explorers and settlers. Yet by 2007, Mexico was dependent on importing its corn from the United States. According to one set of authors in the volume, this is the result of IMF and World Bank structural-adjustment polices that began in the 1980s. The result was trade liberalization, land privatization of formerly-collective land, and elimination of various government protections for peasants that had been in place since the Mexican Revolution. NAFTA further solidified this shift. Mexico, traditionally a country with a rich tradition of food production, soon became a net importer of its food. (40)

The neoliberal impact on food production and distribution has resulted in vast demographic changes in the Third World. Depeasantization and its correlate slumification have been major trends over the last decade. Modern primitive accumulation drives peasants from their land to undeveloped urban areas. In Marx’s day, capitalism forced the peasantry into the factories of new urban production zones. Migration to cities today does not correspond to any industrial need. Thus, today’s peasants are driven into informal slum economies. (27) Nearly one-sixth of humanity lives in slums. The peasants who migrate to the slums essentially drop out of the economy, they are cut off from society. The slumification of the peasantry correlates with an increase of corporate control of agriculture as well as the massive increase in the number of people facing food insecurity. Depeasantization takes other forms as well. In the countryside, farmer suicides have increased dramatically. In rural Maharashtra India, suicide rates tripled from 1995 to 2005. Some 150,000 Indian farmers took their lives over the last few years alone. (46) The depeasantization and slummification that results, in part, from neoliberal control of the food supply has created a vast, new social and geographic base for revolution. The course of future revolutions will surely be imprinted by the neoliberal food policies.

There are numerous suggestions about how to challenge the neoliberal control of the global food supply. “NGOs will save the world,” say many liberals. Since the 1980s, the number of “development-oriented” NGOs in the Third World has increased dramatically. NGOs have attracted vast sums of investment from foreign donors by creating the impression that NGOs are less corrupt, more innovative, more efficient, and closer to the community than states and corporations. NGOs advocates claim that NGOs allow knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to travel between various “social worlds,” allowing these disparate groups to “unite,” to offer alternatives to current agricultural practices. (276) Having to satisfy the interests of foreign donors and the local elites, NGOs do little to challenge the economic system as such. NGOs’ focus on their local projects rather than the broader social change necessary to solve the problem and protect such gains. NGOs end up as social bandaids that fail to offer any real alternative to the system. Instead NGOs form a pillar of the system within those communities most oppressed by the system. NGOs, consciously or not, often come to occupy the social space ripe for revolutionary activism and the creation of the revolutionary institutions of New Power. NGOs come to compete with and block New Power. Thus, despite themselves, NGOs end up serving the very system they criticize. Other recommendations in the volume end up reinventing the wheel. For example, two authors advise that looking to certain aspects of centuries-old traditional food production practices can inform new agricultural practices that do not rely on corporate agrochemicals or monoculture. The current system of food distribution is inefficient. Currently, food items travel an average of 1,300 miles before reaching someone’s plate. (47) Keeping food production close to its consumers is one part of the solution, a solution pioneered, in part, by past socialist societies. Decentralization combined with collectivism of agricultural was part of the socialist model pursued in China during the Cultural Revolution. Self-reliance was pushed by China’s people’s communes. However, it is hard to see how such recommendations could be implemented without a revolutionary, proletarian state dedicated to protecting such localization from neoliberal domination.

The essays emphasize not only today’s aspects of imperial control, but also the continuity with imperialism’s past. The extractive policies of the colonial era share commonalities with the neoliberal policies of today. Just as in the past, raw materials flowed from the Third World to the First World, where they were transformed into finished goods, today, the First World has transformed the Third World into a “world farm.” (51) The wealthy countries of the First World, representing a minority of global consumers, feed, quite literally, on the labor and resources of the Third World. Today’s imperialism, like earlier forms, transfers power and wealth to the top, leaving the vast majority impoverished. The solution is not found within a system driven by profit and expansion. The nature of capitalism is to place profit above the vast majority of humanity. Capitalism’s nature is to continually expand even if the consequences threaten humanity and the Earth itself. Just as the bourgeois state is not the answer, neither can NGOs and small-scale community organizations upend the extractive relationship between the First World and the Third World that drives the modern food system. The best intentions of liberals do little to really solve the crisis facing the global poor. The crises caused by today’s capitalist agriculture and food systems require revolutionary change. A real solution requires an alternative system that serves the interests of the poor and the Earth itself. The people of the Third World suffer. The earth suffers. The system is rotten. No one should starve. No one should go hungry. Food production should empower, not exploit the people. The answer is not reformism of any kind. Oppression leads to resistance. In response to the global food crisis, popular eruptions occurred in dozens of countries, from Bangladesh to Mexico. In Haiti, riots in 2008 led to the ousting of the prime minister. These policies also led to reinvigorated resistance movements across Mexico, notably the Zapatistas and the Popular Revolutionary Army. However, to truly restructure global society, we need global people’s war waged by the poor of the Third World led by the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism.

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Global Warming threatens to push 100 million people into extreme poverty

greed-cause-of-global-warming

Global Warming threatens to push 100 million people into extreme poverty

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A World Bank report released a few months ago, “Shock Waves: Managing the Impact of Climate Change on Poverty,” predicts that global warming will push 100 million more people into extreme poverty over the next decade and a half. This means that 100 million more people will see their incomes drop to under 1.90 dollars per day. This would add a hundred million to the roughly 700 million people earning 1.90 dollars a day or less, or what the World Bank defines as “extreme poverty.”

The people of the poorest countries are the most threatened, especially the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. According to the report, climate change will have terrible consequences for agriculture and health of the poor parts of the world. Crop yields will be reduced by five percent by 2030. This will cause food costs to rise for the poorest people. Natural disasters, like flooding, will become more frequent. And diseases will become more widespread among the poorest parts of the world.

It should also be emphasized that global warming is potentially catastrophic in some cases. For example, of major countries, Bangladesh is ranked the most vulnerable to global warming. By 2020, an estimated 500 to 750 million, mostly in the poorer countries, will be affected by water stress caused by climate change. Low-lying coastal countries such as Bangladesh are especially threatened. Bangladesh, for example, will face increasing water levels and natural disasters like cyclones that it is unprepared to deal with. According to one estimate, by 2020, Bangladesh will face a 50 percent reduction in rain-fed agriculture. South Asia, by 2020, will face an estimated 10 percent drop in staple crops like rice and maize. Countries like Pakistan could face 50 percent reduction in these staples by 2020. The impact on food security in Bangladesh and other countries will be catastrophic if estimates hold.

Global climate change, especially global warming, is potentially so threatening that even the capitalists at the World Bank and other global institutions taken notice. So much is global warming a threat to the entire capitalist system that it cannot be ignored. However, the managers of Empire are unable to address the problem in a serious way because to do so would require a revolutionary change in the global class structure. The global economy is organized in such a way that the poorest countries suffer the worst effects of capitalist production. The populations of the poorest countries slave away for subsistence or sub subsistence wages producing commodities that they themselves rarely consume. The populations of the poorest countries suffer the toxic environments and natural disasters that are a result of capitalist production. At the same time, it is the wealthy countries that reap the benefits of the modern consumer culture. The populations of the wealthy countries live in relative comfort and stability.

Interestingly, a recent poll showed that concern about climate change reflects the global class structure. The poorer countries, with Africa and Latin America leading the pack,  say climate change is of “grave concern.” By contrast, even though climate change is recognize as a real problem by international institutions of Empire, less than half of the people polled in the United States see climate change as a serious problem.

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx famously stated:

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

It is often forgotten that Marx did not see revolution as the only consequence of class struggle. There is another possibility: our common ruin. This is the reality that humanity faces. Global capitalism is pushing our planet, our common home, to its limits. The First World culture of consumption and waste is pushing the environment to a breaking point. The majority of humanity, the global poor, the proletariat suffers. A minority, the global rich, the bourgeoisie consume more and more, waste more and more. If we are to avoid our common ruin, if there is to be a future for our children and their children, we must awaken. We are the vast majority. We are the only ones who can stop this madness. Time is running out. Now is the time to raise the banner of the Global People’s War of the Leading Light. Ruin or revolution?

Sources

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2015/1109/World-Bank-Global-warming-will-drive-100-million-people-into-poverty

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Bangladesh

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Our General Line on the Environment

Our General Line on the Environment

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Capitalism, in its quest for profits, has led us to a point where there are several global environmental catastrophes on the horizon: global warming, dead zones in the oceans, mass extinctions, etc. Capitalism is the problem, not the solution to environmental problems. Capitalism is pushing the planet’s ecosystem to the brink of destruction.

Capitalism has created a situation where the minority benefits by the massive exploitation of the vast majority of humanity. The continued existence of the First World is one of the main problems facing the planet. The lifestyles maintained by the vast majority of First World people are incompatible with humanity’s continued ability to inhabit this planet. The eco-footprint of First World populations is many times that of Third World populations. Because production is concentrated in the Third World, it is the people there who suffer most from poisoned environments. The Third World pays the price for the consumption and waste of the First World. Capitalism, and the continued existence of the First World, is incompatible with the survival of the planet. This is yet another reason to wipe the First World off the map. Our survival necessitates revolution.

What kind of revolution?

A positive, radical reorganization of society is not going to happen under capitalism. Also, utopian schemes like anarchism and primitivism, while well-meaning, are completely ineffectual and unrealistic. It is only by resolving the principal contradiction between the First World and the Third World in our favor that we can move to resolve other contradictions. The struggle against the First World by the Third World masses is the only struggle that can unleash the social energy to make social revolution and environmental revolution possible. The anti-imperialist struggle is the key that unlocks other struggles. This has been shown over and over again in the last half-century of revolution.

The only realistic way to achieve fundamental, lasting environmental change is to defeat imperialism and capture state power. Then, the dictatorship of the proletariat can push forward with social and environmental revolution. Leading Light Communism is the path to communism in the current epoch. Thus, Leading Light Communists are the real environmentalists. No movement is objectively greener than Leading Light Communism. Those whose concerns center on environmental issues should support the Leading Light Communist global people’s war against the First World as the best vehicle for addressing their concerns.

In the past, revolutionaries did not fully understand the role that environmental revolution played in socialist construction. Socialist societies have a mixed record on the environment. Socialist societies had successes as well as failures. Like capitalism, past attempts at socialism were dominated by a productionist outlook that pitted humanity against nature. This outlook saw greater and greater production, greater domination of nature, as the key to human happiness. This outlook is connected to the revisionist Theory of Productive Forces that sees socialism as mainly a matter of development of productive forces, particularly, advances in technology. The Theory of Productive Forces is also the theory behind First Worldism, the various theories that claim that there is a First World proletariat. Leading Light Communism rejects the Theory of Productive Forces, including the view that human happiness is connected to dominating an enemy, hostile natural world. Instead, Leading Light Communism understands human society as a part of the natural world, not something that is separate, above and opposed to nature. Leading Light Communism understands that protecting natural systems, sustaining the natural world, will be a part of any future socialist construction. The dictatorship of the proletariat involves sustainable development, and protecting and preserving nature. After all, the survival of the human species, including proletariat itself, is linked to sustaining our environment.

Will First Worlders benefit from socialism?

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Will First Worlders benefit from socialism?

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“Dear Leading Light,

Will First Worlders benefit at all from socialism?”

Thank you for writing.

Socialism will lead to a lower-material standard of living for First World peoples. First World peoples earn many times more than the value of their labor. They earn many times more than an egalitarian, socialist distribution worldwide would entail. First World populations get more than their share of the pie. They live off the labor of the Third World. Under socialism, First World populations will have to give up their privileges, their lives of luxury, based on extracting super-profits from the Third World. The New Power of the Leading Light will rule over the First World until First World populations can live as contributing members of global society. Here are some positive things that the New Power of the Leading Light has to offer First Worlders:

1. Healthier lives. Even though socialism will entail a drop in the overall standard of living of peoples of the First World, in some ways life will improve for First World populations under socialism. With socialism, the capitalist food industries will not be free to control the diets of the population. First World peoples, generally, do not want for food. However, the food they consume can be extremely unhealthy. This is especially true of fast food and snacks. This has led to some of the highest obesity rates in the world being amongst First World populations. This situation won’t be allowed to exist under socialism. People will come before profits under socialism. Thus science will govern the dietary choices that people have available to them. In addition, socialism will encourage and may even require exercise as part of the work or school day. Time at work or at school may be allocated for an exercise regimen. In addition, people will receive health care under socialism. Health care should be considered a human right under socialism. Thus the First World population, even though materially poorer, will generally lead healthier lives. A healthy population is a happier one.

2. Meaningful lives. Maoists in China thought that people could change. Maoists had a strong belief in people power. Under the Maoists, Chinese society was seen as a giant school of Maoism that had many elaborate practices that all aimed to educate and remold the entire population, both friends and enemies. These elaborate measures ran the range from criticism and self-criticism before the masses, to Mao Zedong Thought teams and classes, to labor and prison reform. In labor reform, people were sent to do hard work alongside the masses to be humbled and to learn. This was often the prescription for communist cadres who had acted as high-handed bureaucrats toward the people. Such cadres were sent to the countryside to be humbled, to learn of the plight of the masses, and to learn from them. This practice was an old one, it pre-dated the Cultural Revolution. It went at least back to the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s. It was also practiced, with limited success, during campaigns such as the Socialist Education Movement prior to the Cultural Revolution. However, the Cultural Revolution raised this practice to new levels. An entire system of May 7th cadre schools were set up at the height of the Cultural Revolution as part of the process of rehabilitating and remolding cadres through labor. In addition, an entire generation of red guards were sent down to learn from the peasantry from 1968 onward. Many of these red guards would participate in the radical push to reestablish the collective economy of the countryside from 1968 to 1970. Just as those who needed to be humbled and reeducated were sent to the Chinese countryside, First Worlders might also be sent to the “global countryside,” the Third World, to do work for and alongside the truly oppressed. This hypothetical process need not be one that is seen as punishment. Rather, this hypothetical process will be one that ends the empty, decadent, and often boring and dreary lives of First Worlders. Instead, First Worlders will be sent on an adventure to reinvent themselves alongside the masses of the Third World. What is more exciting than self-reinvention and creating a whole new, just world? Capitalism limits the horizons of people, socialism will open First Worlders up to new possibilities. What is considered the good life should not be endless consumption, it should be a life of adventure, excitement, creativity, and doing good by humanity. Capitalism offers meaninglessness. Socialism offers meaning.

3. A future. The First World way of life is not sustainable. If First World populations continue to live as they do, then they will not only destroy themselves but also the entire planet. Socialism entails a more sustainable, balanced relationship between man and nature. Capitalism ensures a future that is an ecological hell. Socialism ensures that future generations will be happy and prosperous.

4. Peace. Capitalism is a system that has generated countless wars for profit. Many First World people die in these wars. The worst wars of this century were intra-imperialist wars, both World War 1 and 2 killed tens of millions, including many First World people. Socialism will guarantee that nobody will die in a war over profit. Nobody will die to maintain a class of parasites. Nobody will die in this senseless way. Socialism will provide peace from imperialist war.

Unfortunately, these benefits of socialism do not establish First World peoples as a social base for revolution. First World peoples are, and will continue to be, the most reactionary populations in the world for the time being. However, socialism is not about punishment, it is about liberation. However, we cannot let sentimentalism stand in our way from setting the world right. Let there be no mistake, liberation of humanity will entail the destruction of the First World way of life. In the end, in the long run, this will even be good for First World peoples themselves.

Water and imperialism

Water and imperialism*water01

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Water is essential, in various ways, to all human activity. Water is something that humans, literally, cannot do without. Every human needs water in order live and to have a good life. Societies need water for the survival of their populations. Usable water, as a resource, is finite and distributed unevenly across the planet. Most societies have difficulty providing water to their populations, especially in the Proletarian World, the Third World. The inability to access water is referred to as the water crisis. The water crisis results in terrible human costs every year. And, as usable water becomes less and less available in the future, the brunt of the water crisis will befall proletarian populations. The writings of  Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, social theorist and architect of the Bolshevik revolution, have framed discussions of imperialism and global poverty. Famously, it was Vladamir Illich Lenin who predicted cycles of world wars as  the imperialists vied for the dwindling resources of the Third World. In the twenty-first century, there is increasing conflict over water. Lack of usable water will be a source of great instability.

Capitalist imperialism plays a role in the crisis.  And, the masses that suffers from these water wars and social instability.  As activist and author Arundhati Roy states:

“Empire does not always appear in the form of cruise missiles and tanks, as it has in Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam. It appears in their lives in very local avatars-losing their jobs, being sent unpayable electricity bills, having their water supply cut, being evicted from their homes and uprooted from their land. It is a process of relentless impoverishment with which the poor are historically familiar. What Empire does is further entrench and exacerbate already existing inequalities.”(1)

The effects of the water crisis are wide ranging. According to secretary-general of the United Nations at the time, Kofi Annan, “One person in six lives without regular access to safe drinking water; over twice that number—2.4 billion—lack access to adequate sanitation.” (2) Each year more than five million people die from water-related disease. (3) The World Health Organization states that 1.8 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and sanitation.  (4)

1.2 billion people have no sanitation facilities at all. 2.5 billion lack decent sanitation. (5) Fecal matter causes the majority of illnesses in the world. At any given time, half of the poor of the developing world are ill due to water supply, sanitation and hygiene. The biggest cause of infection is poor sanitation, usually related to water. (6)

In addition, agriculture and the water crisis are connected. Firstly, the water crisis is a significant factor in the world food crisis. Poor agricultural techniques waste water. And, overall, if agriculture remains on the same path, it will produce less and less relative to the growing human population. According to one source, “Irrigation-fed agriculture provides 45 percent of the world’s food supplies, and without it, we could not feed our planet’s population of six billion people.” According to the influential head of environmental research institute Worldwatch, Lester Brown, believes that water scarcity is now “the single biggest threat to global food security” (7) Much of the current irrigation is stressed, using more groundwater reserves than can be sustained. (8) As access diminishes, overuse of current water supplies results in increased pollution and environmental damage. This, in turn, diminishes water resources.  Thus, the water crisis is also a significant factor in the world food crisis.

Population growth will especially compound the problems in water and agriculture. A third of the world’s population live in “water stressed” countries currently. (9) This number will only increase in the coming years.  “Population and economic growth across Asia and the rest of the developing world is a major factor driving fresh-water scarcity. The Earth’s human population is predicted to rise from 6 billion to about 9 billion by 2050, the UN reports. Feeding them will mean more irrigation for crops.” (10) Feeding an increased population will mean more water.

This full brunt of the water crisis is suffered by the Third World. Access to water varies greatly from place to place. Looking at the distribution of access to water from one place to another shows that First World has more access than the Third World. This is exactly what one would expect. Privilege in one area accompanies privileges in other areas. Those with high incomes, those in the First World, have access to food, shelter, water, and other goods required for the good life.

The median income globally is about US $ 912.50 (US $ 2.50 per day). There are 2.5 billion people living on less than US $730 a year (US $ 2 per day).  By contrast, the median yearly  income of  a household in the United States was $46,326 in 2006. (11) The average person requires 5 gallons of water per day to survive. The average American uses 100 to 176 gallons of water a day. An average African family consumes roughly 5 gallons a day. (12) There are 2.9 billion without decent sanitation. (13) Those without access to drinking water are not in the First World.

The wealth and power of the First World translates into the ability to control access to water in the Third World. Imperialists use water as just another commodity, and they are not above brandishing their control of such a commodity for political ends. This has only increased with the rush toward globalization.

Water is increasingly playing a role in imperialist schemes against the Third World.  For example, one contention between the Palestinians and Israelis is the mountain aquifer underneath the West Bank. The Israeli state and settlers have dominated the groundwater supplies. Palestinians are charged three times more for water than Israelis. (14) Under International Law, Israel is required to provide drinking water to Palestinians. Israel is not allowed to deny it to them. (15) Yet increasing costs is one way to wage war against the Palestinians using water instead of bullets. By controlling water, its distribution and cost, the Israelis and their American allies are able to wield power over the Palestinians. Control over water means control over agriculture and food supplies, it means control over sanitation, and control over human life.

The water crisis also threatens to play a role in the reversal of Zimbabwe’s land reform movement. One consequence of the land reform movement in Zimbabwe has been an increase in water problems. Land in Zimbabwe had been controlled by Europeans, reducing the African population to pauperism. Mugabe’s land reform redistributed the land back to the majority African population. One unintended consequence of the land reform was that the new land owners proved unable to maintain the water systems and irrigation dams.

These problems can be manipulated by political forces. (16) The ex-land owners, those who had benefited from the old imperialist and white supremacist system  in  Zimbabwe, have a vested interest in a water crisis because they stand to benefit. Such a crisis could be exploited politically to oust Mugabe and return themselves to power. These forces are backed by powerful Western allies who seek to reduce Zimbabwe to the status of a colony.  (17)

The one example with a happy ending is the conflict in Bolivia. A water conflict in Bolivia also set an imperial power against a poorer people.  Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. (18) Seventy percent of its population live in poverty. Ten percent of children die before age five. Bolivia’s economy was wrecked by hyper-inflation in the 1980s. A small ruling elite dominated Bolivian society. Sixty percent of the population is indigenous. Those of European background have historically had more privileges than the poorer and indigenous segments of the population. In Bolivia in 1999, Cochabamba auctioned its water supply in order to increase services. The water system was purchased by Aguas Del Tunari, a part of Bechtel, a large American corporation. As part of the purchase, the company was guaranteed a 15 to 17 percent rate of profit. After taking over the water system, Aguas del Tunari raised the water rates, some as high as 300 percent. (19) This sparked massive protests that lasted two months. The protesters accused the company of “leasing the rain” as they clashed with the Bolivian military. Hundreds were arrested and a  seventeen year-old boy was shot and killed. Journalist Luis Bredow describes the revolt:

“Everyone was protesting, everyone… I’ve never seen anything like it in Bolivia. Housewives were throwing stones at the police. It really was a revolt.”

The water conflict intersected with traditional nationalist sentiment. These clashes nearly collapsed the government of Bolivia. The sale of the water resources had to be withdrawn. The view that water is a commodity like any other has led to disaster for the masses. According to Vandana Shiva:

“At the core of the market solution to pollution is the assumption that water exists in unlimited supply. The idea that markets can mitigate pollution by facilitating increased allocation fails to recognize that water diversion to one area comes at the cost of water scarcity elsewhere.

In contrast to the corporate theorists who promote market solutions to pollution, grassroots organizations call for political and ecological solutions. Communities fighting high-tech industrial pollution have proposed the Community Environmental Bill of Rights, which includes rights to clean industry; to safety from harmful exposure; to prevention; to knowledge; to participation; to protection and enforcement; to compensation; and to cleanup. All of these rights are basic elements of a water democracy in which the right to clean water is protected for all citizens. Markets can guarantee none of these rights.”

Furthermore:

“Market assumptions are blind to the ecological limits set by the water cycle and the economic limits set by poverty. Over-exploitation of water and disruption of the water cycle create absolute scarcity that markets cannot substitute with other commodities. The assumption of substitution is in fact central to logic of commodification. “ (20)

The problem of water crisis can be solved in principle. According to one source, 97.5 percent of the Earth’s water resources are salty. Of the remaining water, only a single percent is available for humans:

“Even this tiny proportion, however, would be enough for humans to live on Earth if the water cycle was properly functioning and if we managed our water use wisely.” (21)

Even so, the nature of capitalism is to view every resource, from labor to water, as a commodity. The water crisis cannot be solved on a global scale until there is a change in social relations globally. It cannot be solve under the current system of capitalism because the very nature of capitalism itself is to put a price on resources, to eliminate the commons. This being the case, it is likely that solutions will not be put in place for a very long time. And, in the meantime, this translates into increased conflicts, even wars over  diminishing access to water.

The reason that the water crisis won’t be solved in the short term is that imperialists have an interest in perpetuating the crisis. Capitalist imperialism is a system organized around profit, not human need. As long as there is profit to be made by “leasing the rain” or using the water crisis to destabilize political enemies, then the policy makers of the First World will not act to solve the water crisis. It will be up to the masses to solve the water conflicts themselves as was done in Bolivia. To solve it at the global level, to solve it once and for all, requires sweeping, fundamental changes. It requires a whole new society at the global level, a New Power, organized according to the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism. There is no problem we cannot solve. Dare to win.

Notes

1. Roy, Arundhati. People vs. Empire. In These Times magazine. January 2005.

2. Hillary Mayell UN Highlights World Water Crisis for National Geographic News. June 5, 2003.

3. Pacific Institute,  Dirty Water: Estimated Deaths from Water-Related Diseases 2000-2020. 2002.

4. Global Citizens Core.  http://www.globalcitizencorps.org/issues.htm?page=issues_water&elon=1&gclid=CN7WgOrp7ZYCFRxNagodBmgurg

5.  UNICEF/WHO. Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation: Special Focus on Sanitation. 2008.

6. Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC). 2008. A Guide to Investigating One of the Biggest Scandals of the Last 50 Years.

7. Africa’s Potential Water Wars. BBC News. 1999.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/454926.stm

8. World Water Crisis Underlies World Food Crisis. Environmental News Service. 2008. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-18-01.asp

9. The World Water Crisis. http://www.worldwaterday.net/index.cfm?objectid=E39A970B-F1F6-6035-B9F75093B863ED13

10. Wallace, Scott.  Is water becoming ‘the new oil’? Christian Science Monitor. 2008. http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2008/05/29/is-water-becoming-‘the-new-oil’/

11. US Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/

12. UN Water. Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008. 2008.

13. UN Water. Tackling a Global Crisis: International Year of Sanitation 2008. 2008.

14. Ofori-Amoah, Abigail. Water Wars and International Conflict. 2004.http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/OFORIAA/

15. Water war leaves Palestinians thirsty. BBS News. June 2003.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2982730.stm

16. Maoist-Third Worldists denounce imperialist meddling in Zimbabwe.http://monkeysmashesheaven.wordpress.com/2008/06/26/maoist-third-worldists-denounce-imperialist-meddling-in-zimbabwe/

17. Banda, Ignatius. Poverty: Water Wars Hit Rural Zimbabwe. IPS.http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44294

18. Bolivia Country Report. CIA World Fact Book. 2008.https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bl.html

19. Joseph, Richard. The Water War in Bolivia. Counterpunch. March 26/7, 2005.  http://www.counterpunch.org/joseph03262005.html

20. Vandana Shiva.  Water Wars. South End Press. 2002.http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Vandana_Shiva/Water_Wars_VShiva.html

21.  World Water Crisis Underlies World Food Crisis. Environmental News Service. 2008. http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2008/2008-08-18-01.asp

* An earlier version of this article was originally published elsewhere, but the author has given us permission to republish it here with edits.

Bangladesh: the holocaust in our water

Bangladesh: the holocaust in our waterarsenic-250_tcm18-59295

(llco.org)

Water is one of the most basic things required for life. Seventy-one percent of the Earth’s surface is water. By weight, the average human body is about 65 percent water. Water brings life to animals, forests, crops, lands. Even though 97 percent of people in Bangladesh have access to water, only 40 percent have  access to  sanitation. In other words, the majority of our people, 60 percent of our brothers and sisters, do not have access to safe, clean drinking water.

To make matters worse, we, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, are suffering a holocaust hidden in our water. Potable water is limited. And the groundwater that is used by 90 percent of the population is contaminated with arsenic. The levels of arsenic in our water is contributing to what the World Health Organization calls “the largest mass poisoning of a population in history… beyond the accidents at Bhopal, India, in 1984, and Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986,” affecting as many as 77 million of brothers and sisters. Exposure to arsenic causes the deaths of one out of every five people in Bangladesh. This means that roughly 30 million people of our current populations will die from poisoning. The state could easily direct more resources into preventing these deaths, but it does not care. This is a invisible holocaust that those in power refuse to address in a serious way. Yet we see the this holocaust every day when we look into the eyes of our sick and dying children and elders. This holocaust is a result of underdevelopment imposed by the empire, the capitalists, and feudalists. It is a result of poor planning by the state and imperial schemes. The mass poisoning could have been easily avoided in the people had a say in their own destiny. It could have easily been avoided with a system that placed people and the environment first.

Corruption and underdevelopment touches every aspect of life in Bangladesh, including the availability of water. The availability of water changes with the season. There is the monsoon season and there are drier months. However, because of centuries of underdevelopment and neglect, our state has not developed the infrastructure to capture the excess water from the wetter months to provide during the drier months. This problem is compounded. This gives us little control over our water since our great rivers, the Brahmaputra, Meghna, and Ganges, all originate in other countries that are able to control the flow of water at its source. This is yet another example of how the capitalist system values profit, not people. The state could easily create the infrastructure to deliver clean, consistent water year round for the masses. For the capitalists, poor people, workers, peasants, small owners, homeless, we do not matter. They do not care if our sons and daughters drink clean water or poison.

Another problem is the rising salinity, the salt content, of our water, which makes our water less suitable for human use and agriculture. One of the reasons for the rising salt content of our water is the construction of projects such as the Farakka Barrage in India, which diverts water from the Ganges to irrigate Indian soil. This causes the flow of water to slow, thus raising salinity. In addition, the number of shrimp farms in fresh water causes salinity to rise. All of this has an adverse effect on our soil and groundwater. All of this reduces our precious fresh water. All of this could easily be addressed by proper planning and infrastructure development.

The old system, the empire, capitalism, feudalism, are all rotten to the core. The Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Islamists, etc. have no real solutions. Our lives mean nothing to the Old Power. Our children are poisoned every single day. Every time they drink, days are being stolen from their lives. When they steal our water, they steal our lives. We raise our fists.  They have no right to steal our lives, the lives of our children and our children’s children. Our future is our own. Together, we can take back our lives. We have the organization, the science, the leadership to really win. There is path to our future. Follow the Leading Light. Be the Leading Light. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.

Sources

http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html

http://thewaterproject.org/water-in-crisis-bangladesh

http://www.bbc.com/news/10358063

Walk This Road This Us (Video)

Walk This Road With Us
–a speech by Prairie Fire

(llco.org)

Marx and beyond

Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, a book recently described as “one of the most dangerous ever written” in the mainstream press. As Marx pointed out in that very book, the bourgeoisie trembles in fear in the face of communism. They are still trembling today.

Marx wrote of contradictions, of social tensions. Marx lived in the middle of the industrial and scientific revolutions. He looked around and saw the tremendous possibilities science opened up. He saw the potential of science to be used for human benefit. He saw the potential for human liberation in science. Yet, because of the prevailing social relations, because of how power works, because of inequality, science was not being used to benefit humanity. Rather, it was being used to grind people into the ground. At the same time that capitalism was destroying the feudal order, destroying the stagnant order, and helping to propel technology forward in some instances. In other instances, technological and scientific progress were being held back by capitalist social relations.

Marx also saw increasing socialization of production. More and more people were being brought into a single production process. Peasants driven off their land and turned into armies of workers. Factories. Modern production. Today, this continues as globalization. A person in Indonesia can be involved in the same production process as someone half the way around the world in Mexico. Even though production was becoming ever more socialized, distribution remained private. Power remained private. In other words, even though society was unifying, power was held in the hands of the few.

The capitalist system was crisis ridden. Cycles of boom and bust. Human lives at the mercy of irrational market forces. Production organized to serve profit, not the people. Marx called this the anarchy of capitalist production. This anarchy is irrational from the standpoint of human need.

Marx also spoke of a great divide in the world, a few people grew wealthy and the vast majority were ground into the dirt — a polarization between the haves and the have nots. In his day, this was a polarization between the factory owners and the industrial workers. Capitalists versus proletarians. The rich grew richer and the poor poorer.

Such an irrational system could not survive forever. He predicted these contradictions, these tensions, would explode into revolution. Much of Marx’s analysis rings true today. However, the world has polarized a bit differently. The world is not as even as Marx predicted. The world is a bit different than 150 years ago. There is a great polarization today. There is a great divide. However, the world is much different today.

Global class analysis

The principal contradiction, the main divide that shapes our world is the wealthy countries versus poor countries. A global city versus a global countryside. The exploiter countries versus exploited countries. The First versus Third World. This is what we need to understand to make revolution today. And revolution is the only answer to the problems facing our world.

In 1820, the difference between the rich and poor countries was about 3 to 1. Today, it is about 72 to 1. The gap between the global poor and the global rich grows. The divide between the Third World and First World grows. The First World peoples live lives of luxury. The Third World people suffer.

Underdevelopment. Poverty. Starvation. Cruelty. War. Rape. Violence.

Half the world lives and dies on less than 3 dollars a day. The population in India making .80 cents a day or less is greater than the population of the United States. 40 percent of the world’s population, in the Third World, receives only 5 percent of the world’s income. The richest 20 percent, almost all in the First World, receive 75 percent of the world’s income.

22,000 children, all in the Third World, die due to poverty each and every day.

Approximately 800 million people in the Third World world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific. Around 30 percent of all children in the Third World are underweight or stunted — mostly in Africa and Asia.

10 million children die in the Third World each year before they reached the age of 5. The same as child population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy.

A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World. 1 in 3 people has trouble accessing water, mostly in the Third World. 1.1 billion people in the Third World do not have adequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. For tens of millions of people, just finding water is a life and death struggle. Hours, each and every day, just looking for water. Half of Third World people suffer from health problems related to unsafe water or lack of water at some point in their lives.

14 million people die every year from preventable diseases, mostly in the Third World. 95 percent of new HIV infections occur in the Third World world, mainly in Africa. Only 12 percent who have HIV are getting anti-HIV treatment. By 2020, AIDS will have killed more people than in both world wars. These victims are mostly in the Third World.

Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. 121 million in the Third World have no formal education. Revolution is the only answer.

World War 3

We are in the middle of a world war, World War 3. The First World wages war against the Third World. There is a genocide against the Third World. Every year, far more people die in the Third World than died in the Holocaust. We must not be like the “good Germans” who sat silently as their neighbors disappeared into the ovens. People are burning and the Earth is burning.

Every year. Every month. Every week. Every day. Every hour.

Grueling poverty. Famine. Wars. Death. Ecological catastrophe. Inflicted by the wealthy countries against the poor countries. The wealthy countries get richer. The poor are thrown away. Revolution is the only answer.

The imperialists will stop at nothing to keep their power. The First World wages a war against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And now Obama extends his wars to Pakistan, and Libya and Iran. The history of imperialism is a long and bloody one — from Columbus to today. A whole continent of peoples was exterminated to make way for Uncle Sam’s empire. Half of Mexico stolen. Millions of Blacks and Africans enslaved to create the American way of life, to create the First World.

The imperialists wage their wars all over the globe: Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Angola, Ethiopia, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon, Korea, China, Indonesia, Philippines. 4 million killed by imperialism during the Vietnam war. And on and on and on. When will it end? Revolution is the only answer.

Revolutionary science

The problems seem so big. The injustice so unstoppable. The First World and their agents will do everything they can to stop the poor peoples. Lenin said that we have to be as radical as reality itself. If we are to really make a change, we too must be as radical as reality. We have to really make a break with narrow, small-minded thinking. We must break with dogma. We have to make big changes within ourselves. Everyone says they are open minded, but we have to be willing to really open up our minds, to get over our fears. We need to leave our pettiness behind. We have to get serious. We have to revolutionize ourselves.

Ideology is a weapon. The people of the Third World and their allies fight back with whatever weapon they have. If they have a knife, they use a knife. A brick. A gun. Mao’s general, Lin Biao called revolutionary science the spiritual atom bomb that will save the world. Whenever the masses have been given science, they have picked it up. Marx. Lenin. Mao. They have changed the world. A red wave has broken out across the world. We must be willing to study the question of revolution. We must understand what past revolutions have done right, and what they have done wrong. We must reject the mainstream bullshit that has taught us that socialism and communism are dirty words. We must not be afraid to be Leading Lights, to lead, to be the vanguard. History has placed this role on our shoulders. We are condemned to lead. This is our responsibility.

New Power of the Leading Light

Our revolution will come from the darkest places — where revolution is not simply one option among many, but from where it is the only option, it is survival. From the poor places, the indigenous places, from the mountains and jungles and slums of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Che Guevara once called the United States “the belly off the beast.” The First World, including the United States, is a beast that cannibalizes oppressed peoples. First World peoples as a whole are beasts. They live off the suffering of others. First World consumption is killing the planet, our common home. Even so, there are a few anomalies in the First World who will join the global struggle for communism. A few will break out of the matrix of consumerism, the matrix of the American way of life. A few anomalies in the First World will take the red pill. These anomalies in the First World, who have privilege, they too have a duty to fight for a better world alongside the people of the Third World. Everyone, but especially First World peoples, have to give up the consumerist dream, the individualist lifestyle that has consigned half of humanity to starvation and is pushing the world toward ecological collapse. Everyone, but especially First World peoples, must take a serious look at the way they live. First World people are entitled to less, not more. Humanity will impose socialism and communism on the First World whether the First World populations desire it or not. Global people’s war will come. The First World will cease to exist as it has. There will be a reconing. A New Power of the Leading Light will rise.

Walk the road to communism

A new world! A New Power! The end of ALL oppression. No exploitation. No rich. No poor. No national oppression. No gender oppression. The liberation of the poor, women, the youth. No more egoism, no more individualistic consumerism, no more me, me, me. Total liberation.

Equality. Collectivism. Altruism. A society organized around human needs and sustainability, not greed and not profit. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Mao said , “Serve the people.” Sustainability. A new way of relating to each other and the earth, our common home. Peace. Justice. Communism. Only the leading light of revolutionary science can truly unite this world. A storm is coming, a storm like no other. The third wave of revolution. A new breakthrough for humanity. We must bring the light to a world cloaked in darkness.

We can’t help where we are from. White. Black. Blue eyes. Brown eyes. First World. Third World. But, we can help where we are going. We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We need to create real revolution.

People have made revolution before us. They will make revolution after us. But we are, now, on this own long march together. The march is full of twists and turns. It is full of errors and retreats. It is a protracted struggle. We will not win overnight. But there is no greater journey. We will walk this road together. Walk this road with us because revolution is the only solution.

Our Day Is Coming (Video)

Our Day is Coming

(llco.org)

The world cries out in pain. Two futures, two roads are before us: communism or barbarism, the Leading Light or endless night. There is a choice to be made.

We must transform ourselves for revolution. Do away with pettiness, greed, ego, smallness of mind. We must think beyond ourselves. An offense against one is an offense against all. When one bleeds, we all bleed. We must think as humanity and beyond. Not only is this a battle for our future, it is a battle for the future of our planet.

We, warriors of the people, must also act as guardians of the animals, the plants, the lands, the seas, the skies that sustain us all. The war to liberate the poor of the Third World is also a war for the future of our planet. It is through this righteous struggle that we become lights in a world of darkness, it is through this righteous struggle that we become who we really are. it is through this struggle that we forge the future.

Unity is strength

Capitalist culture teaches every individual that they are the center of the universe, that they are a castle unto themselves. We must break down the walls that keep us apart. It is only through organization, discipline, loyalty, leadership that we can really win.

Duty. Patience. We must be humble. We must find our roles. Learning to lead is also learning to listen and to follow. Well all stumble at times. Everyone makes mistakes. To be human is to fall. Pick yourself up when you have fallen. To learn from mistakes is the nature of science. To go forward against all obstacles is to be great.

To create we must destroy. We must pursue our cause to the end. To be ruthless, decisive and bold, to do everything that it takes to win. To the old world, we are a firestorm, to burn away, to annihilate, to turn to dust all that stands against us. We must be the sword of history. At the same time, we must have bigness of heart, humility, kindness. One hand holds the sword, the other must be extended outward to help.

We must dare go beyond the horizons.

New possibilities. We will not win by repeating the past. The last waves of revolution were defeated. We do not go forward by cobbling together the fragments of the past. We must understand the past, learn from the past, but we must go beyond it. The next wave of revolution is made by boldly striking out, casting aside dogma, by putting the most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, in command.

We declare total war on the old ways, the Old Power. We declare total war on the First World. We demand nothing less than a whole new world, a world without poverty, without suffering, without cruelty, without war, without hunger, without chauvinism, without rape.

We demand a world of equality, a world of peace, a world of justice. Happiness. Joy. Serve the people. Imagine true freedom where we can be our best selves. A better world is possible, an equal world is possible, but we must fight hard and to the end.

Global people’s war all the way to Leading Light Communism. To give oneself over, to live and die for justice, for revolution, for our world is to be great. To this we pledge everything, our resources, our talents, our lives. The future is there for the taking if we dare. Never surrender.

Follow the Leading Light. Be the Leading Light. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.

Bangla Zone: Our lives are our own, our future is our own

Bangla Zone: Our lives are our own, our future is our own 706487_bangladesh300

(llco.org)

In Bangladesh, feudalism, capitalism, and imperialism all merge into one tyrannical, barbaric system. What exists in Bangladesh is an amalgam of modern and feudal exploitation and control. Global corporations, the neoliberal, comprador state, the network of globalist NGOs and charities all work to ensure the exploitation and control of the masses and resources. All of these institutions are part of the global empire. When it serves its interests, the global empire merges with and promotes feudal institutions and modes of production. When it serves its interests, this empire abandons feudal methods for more modern methods. Islamic and feudal traditionalism exist side-by-side with neoliberal capitalism, two sides of the same coin. The result for the people of Bangladesh is tremendous suffering.

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated and poor countries in the world. The Gross National income per capita is 520 dollars/40,222 taka per individual, this is the Purchasing Power Parity of 1,440 dollars. Most of Bangladesh’s laborers are engaged in informal, low-income jobs with limited productivity. Twentysix percent of its 150 million population live on under 2 dollars/ 155 taka a day. Eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas. Although the farm sector accounts for less than 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product, 44 percent of the labor force employed in agriculture. The masses suffer rising landlessness. Among the poorest percent of the population, four out of five own less than half an acre of land. Many own no land at all. The number of landless and those with marginal, unproductive farms that cannot support families are increasing. Much of the rural population suffers from lack of adequate services like education, health care, roads and infrastructure, access to markets, electricity, clean water, and safe sanitation. Many people suffer from food insecurity and have unhealthy diets. Women especially suffer because of the feudalist traditions that persist. Much of the urban population also suffers great poverty, suffering many of the same problems. A significant part of the rural and urban population suffer as a result of “natural disasters” caused by poor infrastructure and planning. This threatens much of the livelihoods, crops, homes, and health of much of the rural population. Monsoons, floods, mudslides, droughts affect the rural and urban masses. Erosion and overpopulation are also big problems threatening health, livelihoods, and the environment. Cholera, dengue, and malaria threaten the population. Disease is rampant in the countryside and slums. Half of the children in rural areas are chronically malnourished, 14 percent suffer acute malnourishment. Food insecurity is a reality for Bangladesh. The literacy rate is only 57 percent in the adult population. Infant mortality is higher in Bangladesh than in most countries. This is our reality.

The reality for the imperialist is different. At the heart of the First World, in the United States, the average income for someone over 25 years is 32,000 dollars/2,475,200 taka. People in all First World countries have a relatively comfortable and safe life. Many workers in the First World are wealthier than small capitalists in the Third World. The First World as a whole is part of the bourgeois enemy that will always oppose revolution, equality, and justice. Like a beast, empire consumes more and more of the Third World. The gap between the rich and the poor grows. Over the past century, the difference between the richest and poorest countries has gone from 3 to 1 all the way to 72 to 1 today. We work, we starve, they consume. They have healthy lives and luxury, we live in toxic environments. Instead of helping solve the problems of poverty, health, and underdevelopment, they spend money on endless wars to ensure they can continue to rob the masses and the Earth. Their stomach is bottomless. They demand more, more, more. They are cannibals who feed on our suffering.

Bangladesh is going through a great transitions. Marx long ago wrote how the introduction of modern production methods push peasants off their land into the cities. Individual farming is replaced by the agribusiness of corporations. Changes in production and increasing population have resulted in an exodus of to the cities. However, empire does not value human survival. The farmers who are driven to the city find little work. They are forced to take up life in the ever-growing slums that swell with people in similar situations. Others are forced to flee the land of their birth to find work in other countries, often illegally.

The imperial system has been introducing updated, modern methods of exploiting the masses and the land in Bangladesh. Even though they still use traditionalism and feudalism, more and more, they diversify and update their methods of control. At the present time, there is tremendous conflict between the liberal capitalists and the Islamists in Bangladesh. They fight over who can best serve the empire. Two running dogs are fighting it out. No matter which dog wins, we, the masses, lose. We must not look to the old world for answers. We must not look to the Old Power. The answer is within ourselves, within the masses. A New Power is rising, a New Proletariat of all the oppressed peoples:  rural and slum, peasant and worker, employed and unemployed, man and woman, old and young, political dissidents, homeless, small owners, intellectuals, all who suffer. We are the real heroes. We must become masters of our home, of our land. Empire steals our land, our resources, our labor, our opportunity, our freedom, our dignity. There is one thing it will not steal: our future. Our future is ours, if we fight back. Our lives are our own, our future is our own. Armed with the most advanced weapon, all-powerful Leading Light Communism, we will make total revolution. We will conquer the future for our children and for our children’s children.

 Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_Bangladesh

http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/home/tags/bangladesh

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-12650940

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/bangladesh_bangladesh_statistics.html

hhttp://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new03_001.htm

http://llco.org/walk-this-road-with-us/

Out of the shadows into the sun

Out of the shadows into the sunAL03

an interview with Leading Light Commander Prairie Fire

(llco.org)

1. Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions. We admire your work very much. We admire all the Leading Lights. Leading Light Communist Organization is the only organization that is bringing forward new ideas to make revolution in the real world. It is exciting to finally meet you, Leading Light Commander. I know you have many names, but we’ll refer to you as “Prairie Fire.” Can you briefly discuss the problem as you see it? What is wrong with the world?

We live in a world of great poverty, great misery, great suffering, great cruelty. The scale of violence inflicted against humanity and the Earth is unprecedented. Global Empire, the Bourgeois World, the First World, is stealing our future and the future of the planet itself. Half the world lives and dies on less than 3 dollars a day. 800 million people do not have access to safe water. For hundreds of millions of people just getting by, just finding safe water, is a life and death, and daily, struggle. Every year, millions of lives are cut short due to structural poverty, lack of healthcare, lack of food or safe water, toxic environments. Endless wars, assassinations, drone strikes, bombings, death-squad terror. Suffering and cruelty are everywhere. Our people are destroyed. Our common home, the Earth, is destroyed. If we do not act, there will be nothing left, no future for our children and their children. We must fight back. Our children deserve better. We deserve better. But we should not strike out in blind rage. If we are to really win, we need more than just a revolutionary body, but also a mind. We must be guided by the Leading Light of truth, by revolutionary science. Without theory, practice is blind. Leading Light Communism is the only way forward.

2. It is hard to think about just how terrible it all is. It makes me want to cry sometimes. So few voices are speaking truth about just how bad it is. I don’t want to live in a nightmare. I want a good life. What is your goal? What kind of world do you want?

The last waves of revolution were defeated. We do not need to repeat the past. We do not go forward by cobbling together the fragments of the past. We must understand the past, learn from the past, but we must go beyond it. The next wave of revolution is made by boldly striking out, casting aside dogma, by putting the most advanced revolutionary science, all-powerful Leading Light Communism, in command. This means we must break every chain that holds us prisoner. Whether we are bound with one or a hundred chains, we are still chained to the wall. We must break the chains of class, racism, chauvinism, sexism, and every other chain. No one is free until everyone is free. Our war is on the old ways, the Old Power. We declare total war on the First World, on Empire.

We demand nothing less than a whole new world, a world without poverty, without suffering, without cruelty, without war, without hunger, without chauvinism, without rape. We demand a world of equality, a world of peace, a world of justice. Happiness. Joy. Serve the people. Imagine true freedom where we can be our best selves. Imagine a world where we were secure in the knowledge that our children will prosper, that the Earth would bloom again. Imagine all of humanity united in a common purpose, on a great adventure. Imagine if we could start over, to redesign society for the benefit of all, according to the best, revolutionary science. Instead of a society that promotes the worst in humanity, crass consumerism, pettiness, greed, cruelty. Imagine a society that cultivated the best in humanity: heroism, courage, bravery, sharing, caring, creativity. Imagine a society that promotes the best of the worker, the farmer, the builder, warrior, the nurturer, the scientist, the poet, the artist and musician, the philosopher. This is our future, our destiny, all-powerful Leading Light Communism.

3. That is a lot to take in. Lots of people know there is something wrong, but they don’t know how to change it. Who is on our side in this fight? Where will our forces come from? Who will make revolution? Some people will oppose us, right?

“Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” The great revolutionary Mao Zedong, who led a mighty revolution that liberated a quarter of the world’s population in China, called this the “first question of revolution.” Unfortunately, Mao’s revolution, like the Bolshevik one before him, was defeated, but there still is so much to learn from those experiences. Even though China and Russia are capitalist now, let’s ask Mao’s question. If we are really to make revolution, we have to understand who has an interest in preserving the system, the status quo, and who does not. We also have to know which social forces, which classes, which groups, can be aligned, mobilized, against the system. Today, capitalism is a world system, Empire is global. We must apply class analysis not just to our own societies, not just to our communities or neighborhoods, but we must apply it on the global scale. To understand the part, we must understand the whole. To understand the local, we must understand the global. This is today’s reality.

In the nineteenth century, when Karl Marx looked at the world around him, European society was entering a new, dynamic era. The scientific and technological revolution was radically transforming life. Peasants were driven from their land, transformed into workers. The beginning of modern production. The factory system was born. Industrialism.  Marx saw a polarization happening in society.  On the one side were the capitalists, those who owned the means of production, the wealthy, the factory owners replacing the old feudal aristocracies. A new ruling class was replacing the old one. On the other side were those with nothing to lose but their chains. He called this new revolutionary class “the proletariat.” Now in his day, the proletariat, the revolutionary class, was made up of the industrial workers who owned nothing, people pushed off the land and transformed into workers who had only their labor to sell. All of society was changing. Capitalism was prone to crisis and instability. The old clan structures, the family, and traditional stabilizing institutions were breaking down. The old rural-based society and its traditions were dying. A new urban, cosmopolitan culture was rising. Marx believed that this struggle between the capitalists and workers, the haves and the have nots, would lead to real revolution, a fundamental reorganization of society according to egalitarian, communist, scientific principles.

This is how Marx saw the world, almost two centuries ago. Our world is much different today. It’s not all about Europe, or even mostly about Europe. In fact, the last century of revolution has taught us that revolution will happen in the weakest links of the system, on the edges of global economic power. Lenin’s prediction that the storm center of world revolution moving eastward came to past. Mao spoke of the east wind prevailing over the west wind. Today, the entire world economy is a single entity. Understanding the question of friends and enemies, Mao’s first question requires a class analysis that is truly global. It is not just First World capitalists who are reactionary enemies, but most people in the First World. Ordinary people in the First World have far more to lose than their chains. They have wealth, privileges, houses, cars, electronics, security, leisure, opportunities, mobility. They have access to capital. They have social wealth, infrastructure, land, modern institutions. Ordinary people in the First World do not have a class interest in revolution.

People in the First World are far too comfortable to make revolution. Revolution means risking your possessions and way of life. Revolution means risking death, and the death of family and children. People in the First World, including workers, have far more to lose than their chains. Even the poorest people in the wealthy countries do not make revolution because they are too insignificant, numerically too small and dispersed. And there is enough opportunity and class mobility that they do not feel revolution is the smartest way forward for them. They never form the requisite class consciousness, the revolutionary way of thinking. No matter what we do and say, people in the First World are not a revolutionary social base. No matter how hard we try, they will not make revolution. Facts are stubborn things.

Wealthy people in the Third World who ally with the First World, who are part of Empire, also have a real stake in the system. They are part of the First World, its agents. They stab their homelands in the back. They steal the resources and wealth of the Third World for the First World. They too are our enemies.

Who are our friends then? Who are the real proletariat today? Mao said “serve the people.” But, who are our people? Marx wrote that capitalism would create greater and greater misery for the vast majority. People would be pushed and pushed ever down, until they only had one way out, to cast off their chains through revolution.  Revolution is the hope of the hopeless. Our real friends are the the vast majority, the ordinary, the working, the farming, the homeless, the small owners, the slum dwellers, the poor peoples in the Third World. These are the people who are being smashed down. These are the suffering masses who have nothing to lose but their chains. Our world is the Proletarian World, the Third World, and its allies. Imagine our people sweeping the whole system away, starting over. Today, this is the principal contradiction in our world: The global rich versus the global poor, the Bourgeois World versus the Proletarian World, the First World versus the Third World. This is what we must understand to really win.

4. Revolution is what we need, but does it have to be violent. Can’t we just vote? What do you think about elections?

There is the story of the man on a ship who has a purse full of gold. He accidentally drops his purse overboard. He dives in after it. He drowns. When his body floats back up. We ask: “Did he own the gold or did the gold own he?”

This is how the reactionary state works. We may pursue change by petitioning the government or by participating in elections. Reform. We may even think we are making progress. Perhaps we even get elected. Perhaps we get some power. But this is the question: “What kind of power are we acquiring?” We are not building revolutionary power, we are instead partaking of the Old Power, the old system, the old society. Even if it looks like we are gaining influence through reform, through parliament, through elections, we are really losing. We are being co-opted. Even though it may seem like we own the system, really, by giving us power and influence, the system is owning us. Like the gold that pulls the man into the water to drown him, the system pulls revolutionaries into reform in order to drown the revolution. Many people never learn. They will stupidly chase after the gold, drowning with a big-fat grin on their face. This is what Lenin pointed out.

Revolution is not a matter of simply taking over the old system and bending it to our will. Rather, revolution is about sweeping away the old society, the Old Power. It is about building a totally new society, a New Power. The revolutionary process is one where two sets of institutions and ideas battle it out. Revolution is a process of constructing a dual power, a New Power, against the Old Power. The old state, the old institutions, the old culture, the old ways of thinking, all are the Old Power. The New Power is made up of new institutions: new ways to resolve conflict, to govern communities, to educate, to build public opinion and shape culture, to defend the people, to coordinate the revolution, etc. The New Power is a whole network of institutions, a kind of revolutionary shadow state that exists beneath the surface, among the people. The New Power is the people’s army, the people’s fronts, the people’s courts, the people’s schools, the people’s media, the people’s culture, the vast body of revolution. And, leading it all is the Leading Light, the brain that controls the vast body of revolution, the party of a new type. And, when the time is right, the New Power fully emerges as the Old Power is knocked down, filling the vacuum. This is a key part of the revolutionary process.

Lenin taught that the old state is not some neutral ground where the bourgeoisie and proletariat can resolve their differences. Rather, the old state is fundamentally reactionary. It is a tool of reactionary class rule through and through. The idea that we can capture this tool and use it for our own ends is foolish. The old state cannot be a tool of revolution. We cannot reform our way to revolution. Revolution is a deep, fundamental reorganization of all of society, it means disempowering the reactionary classes. It means empowering the revolutionary classes. The reactionary classes will never give us power and turn over their state, their weapon. They will never commit class suicide. Revolution is simply incompatible with the old state, the Old Power. We must write off elections and reformism from the strategic standpoint. “Revolution” means real revolution, warts and all.

Does this mean that we cannot make limited use of the old state, reforms, elections? From a tactical standpoint, it is acceptable to use the tools of the Old Power against itself so long as we understand that elections and reform are very limited tactics, not roads to revolution. For example, in some cases, it is acceptable to participate in an election, not because we believe we can win, but in order to use the election campaign as a way to draw attention to ourselves, as a way to agitate. In some circumstances, it is acceptable to participate in elections as part of an effort to block the rise of feudal, fascistic, militaristic, fundamentalist religious, or dictatorial forces. In other words, if rightist, militarist, fascist forces might win an election, and if these forces promise to wipe out oppositional forces, to silence all dissent, then we should use every tool in the toolbox to oppose them. Because if these fascist forces win, it will make it very difficult to organize the masses for revolution, for Global People’s War. If this is the case, although participating in elections will not bring revolution, it can help prevent the rise of deadly forces. There might be other times when we insert ourselves into local reform campaigns or elections not because it is a path to revolution, but because it is a way to recruit or gain resources. There may be organizational or logistical reasons for tactical manipulation of reformist and electoral campaigns. Think of it this way: Strategically, reform is never a path to power. But, tactically, reform can be an option. “Strategically, never! Tactically, maybe!” We have to always remember that there is only one path to revolution: the Global People’s War, the New Power, the Leading Light.

5. That makes a lot of sense. So many groups end up selling out when they begin to work with the system. They always claim to still be fighting for revolution, but the reality is they give up slowly. You mentioned war. What are your feelings on violence and war?

The great Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz famously said “war is politics by other means.” Our struggle is a class struggle, the poor against the wealthy. The politics of the poor are absolutely antagonistic to the politics of the wealthy. Our interests are absolutely opposed to each other. Thus there can be no real, lasting reconciliation between us and them. We will not allow them to continue to impose all the horrors of this system upon us. We say “no!” to poverty, to terror, to genocide, to cruelty, to suffering, to toxic and unhealthy environments, to starvation, to rape, to corruption, to the endless indignities we endure. And they will always respond with their own “no!” whenever we reach for power. They will always fight tooth-and-nail for the horrific status quo. They will never give up their power and wealth. War between the poor and the wealthy is the inevitable, normal state of capitalism.

There is a difference though. We agree with Mao when he said we make war to end war. We wage war to end injustice. We wage war to give everyone a prosperous, secure, happy life. We fight to save the Earth, our common home. We fight for our future, for the future of our children. They fight to continue the madness. They fight for a corrupt, stupid, cruel, unjust order. They fight for death. We fight for life. They fight for themselves. We fight for the people.

Is the military struggle our only weapon? Of course not. To emphasize only the military aspect of our revolution, our Global People’s War, is a big error. It is an error criticized by Mao during his own people’s war. It is an error sometimes associated with focoism and adventurism. Our struggle is complex. The military struggle of the People’s Army of the Leading Light must be integrated with deep political education. The military struggle must be integrated with other aspects of the New Power of the Leading Light: people’s committees, people’s courts, people’s schools, people’s culture, etc. This vast network of struggles, both military and nonmilitary, must be coordinated by the Leading Light to achieve victory, total revolution. This means that military struggle, violence, is only one aspect of revolution. The most advanced revolutionary science, Leading Light Communism, is an all-powerful, all-round, awesome strategy. Leading Light Communism is indeed a sword and shield, but much more. It is also the body and mind to wield them. It is only real path to really winning. And it is about winning. To paraphrase Lenin: “Without power, all is illusion.”

6. You mentioned the Earth. Past revolutions did not treat the environmental well. Leading Light Communism is something very new though. What about the environment?

Our home, the Earth, is being destroyed. The forests, the lungs of the planet, are being burned. Whole areas, mountain tops, turned to ugly scars. Dead zones in the oceans threaten the entire food chain, including humanity. A continent-sized lake of toxic plastic exists in the Pacific ocean, destroying animal and plant life. Global warming is raising the temperature across the planet, causing water to rise, causing drought and famine, causing natural disasters. Whole countries, like Bangladesh, are threatened with ruin. Imagine the refugee crisis, imagine the death toll, imagine the toll on public health, imagine the harm inflicted on the ecosystem, if Bangladesh were flooded by rising water. Whole island chains may soon disappear. Many people do not realize just how bad the situation is. They dismiss the scientific consensus. Or they simply refuse to acknowledge any problems that do not affect them. Or they only look at their daily lives, not how their actions may affect their children, future generations. Many people do not realize that we are in the middle of another mass extinction. Just as the dinosaurs were wiped out, animal and plant life is going through another mass extinction. It is so bad that if humanity does not wake up, there will be no future left for anyone.

And for what? All of this destruction so the First World can consume more. Capitalism says “buy, buy, buy!” “Consume, consume, consume!” “Waste, waste, waste!” Capitalism is a beast that consumes natural resources and shits out its ugly consumer culture. Not only does it endlessly consume the physical world, but it also consumes beauty itself, replacing it with vulgarity. Capitalism is irrational from the standpoint of human need. It is organized to serve profit, not people nor the Earth. Capitalism cares nothing about the future, nothing about future generations. It is the Third World masses that pay, are starved, so the First World can grow fat. Humanity is walking a razor’s edge. Leading Light Communism, by contrast, calls us to live according to our best selves: help each other, share with each other, sacrifice, be honorable, create, seek truth, and protect nature. Leading Light is about a sustainable, balanced approach to development and nature. We must be guardians of the Earth, of the seas, forests, skies, plants, animals that sustain us all. Serving the people also means serving the Earth.

7. You spoke of the importance of science. There are a lot of attacks on science today. What about religion? Do you oppose religion?

Religion plays many roles in society. It is part of the way those in power and other reactionaries justify their attacks on the masses. All kinds of cruelties are inflicted against the masses by the wealthy and powerful in the name of religion. Yet we must also remember Karl Marx’s famous words from A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

The masses turn to religion because of oppression. They turn to religion as an escape, for comfort. Since this world is so filled with horrors, they seek solace in the thought of an afterlife where things are better. Since justice escapes them in this world, they hope for divine justice, a day of judgement or karma. One of the pleasures of Christian heaven, at least as it is portrayed in literature, is that those in heaven get to watch the suffering of those in hell, those who harmed them in this life. Thus heaven has a sadistic, petty component. Truth can be hard to handle, so people seek comfort in shadows and illusion. People have always looked to myth. Myths, religion, is also part of cultural and community identity. We must approach this issue in a humble, understanding way. We do not want to trample on identity, culture, tradition as imperialists often do.

Marx famously wrote that the secret of the holy family is the earthly family. In other words, our religious conceptions, our God or gods, are really just mental, cultural constructs. We project social relations that we encounter in our daily life, the father of the patriarchal family, onto the universe. God is a kind of father figure to his children, humanity, his creation. After we project this onto the universe, we then begin to order our lives according to our own creation, but we fail to recognize this projection as our own. It comes to have a kind of cultural life, a kind of perceived objectivity, beyond ourselves. In a sense, religion is a collection of illusions, but also more than mere illusions. Because man is a social animal, as Aristotle famously wrote, because of the collectivity of human life, because of culture, these illusions become a force in the world and in history. But ultimately, religion is false. To continue to be motivated by it, to continue to explain the world by reference to it, is deeply incompatible with science. And since our goal is to liberate humanity and the Earth through empowering the masses with revolutionary science, religion is, in the final analysis, an obstacle to this goal.

The revolution, at the level of leadership, has to be organized according to the most advanced science. And, as Leading Light Communists, our goal is to empower the masses to lead themselves, to give the people the tools they need to understand their world and change it. This means we have to continuously strive to elevate people, to advance them, to educate them, to always try to bring more people into the leadership, to the Leading Light.

What will society look like as we transition to Leading Light Communism? Revolutionary society will be officially secular, but tolerant of the diverse beliefs of many faiths so long as they do not hurt anyone directly. The contradiction between revolutionary-scientific leadership and the religious masses should be treated as non-antagonistic. Those who are religious and try to help the masses should be treated as friends of the revolution. Tolerance and gentle education should be the order of the day. It is more important to expose those who use God as a way to oppress people than to expose God himself. However, there are some instances when the threat from reactionaries, capitalists, feudalists, fascists with religious ideology is so great that we must suppress them and their fascist beliefs. Those who pervert the best in religion, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., in order to oppress and exploit the masses should be seen as enemies. To those religious friends of the people, we extend the open hand. To those religious enemies of the people, we raise a clenched fist.

We must all remember that not every individual is at the same place on the learning curve. People have different experiences. We must always be humble. We must always use the mass line. Revolution, leading prisoners out of Plato’s cave, out of the world of shadow and illusion, takes time. It is a protracted struggle. It is part of our long march

8. Your message is so important. The future really does hang in the balance. It is frightening, the place we find ourselves as a species. It does lift my spirits to know there are real leadership out there. But are you hopeful about the future?

Revolutionaries are optimists. A great storm is gathering. Crisis after crisis. Poverty. Endless wars. Ecological catastrophe.  People have been asleep a long time, since the last wave of revolution was defeated. The people have one eye open. They are beginning to awaken once more. We must open both their eyes with science, with hope, with vision, with a real alternative, one that is based on the truth of past revolutions, but integrates the most advanced science of today, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism. We lead the poor people, the exploited workers, the ordinary farmers, the landless, the slum dwellers and homeless, the small owners, all who truly suffer the worst of this world. They are us. We are them. United in suffering, united in hope, united by our future, shared destiny, the Leading Light.

Those in power will fight us. To the arrogant, we say: “all that you are, all that you represent, all that you honor will be swept away by our mighty storm. From great chaos, the world can be reborn. There is great potential in those who have seen the reality of this system, who have looked it in the eye, who have endured the worst and survived. And we have endured. We have survived. What does not kill us, makes us stronger. For there is a power in the people that you will never understand, but you will come to know it. We promise you, we will bring it to you, one way or another. You are facing a people, a spirit, you have never seen before.”

Armed with the best, most advanced revolutionary science, all-powerful, awesome Leading Light Communism, we are guiding our friends, the masses, our people into tomorrow. We declare total war on the Old Power, all the poverty, suffering, cruelty, and pain. A New Power of the Leading Light, of peace, prosperity, happiness, justice, heroism, creativity, sharing is rising like the dawn pierces the night. We carry the future on our finger tips. Our future is our own. We will never stop fighting until we win. Fight, fight, fight, until total victory, total liberation, until Leading Light Communism, until we know once and for all that our children have a future, that the Earth will bloom again. This is our great destiny, and we are its walking martyrs. As the Vietnamese poet and revolutionary Ho Chi Minh wrote:

“Everything changes, the wheel
of the law turns without pause.
After the rain, good weather.”

The storm will get much worse before it gets better. It will get much darker before the dawn. But it will not last forever. It will get better. This is the time of heroes. Our sun is rising. Our day is coming.

“All the birds sing at once.
Men and animals rise up reborn.
What could be more natural?
After sorrow comes joy.”