crisis of capitalism
In Episode 147 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the recent statement from the UN Environment Program that "only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster." Studies from similarly prestigious global bodies have raised the prospect of imminent human extinction. An International Energy Agency report released last year warned that new fossil fuel exploration needed to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adoption of new technologies and emissions standards does mean that CO2 emissions from energy generation (at least) are likely to peak by 2025. But the IEA finds that this would still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels by century's end—exceeding the Paris Agreement limits, with catastrophic climate impacts. And the catastrophic impacts, already felt in places like (just for example) Chad and Cameroon, win but scarce media coverage. Climate-related conflict has already escalated to genocide in Darfur, and possibly in Syria. The oil companies, meanwhile, are constitutionally incapable of writing off the "stranded assets" of vast hydrocarbon investments. Climate protests in Europe—at oil terminals and car shows (as well as, less appropriately, museums)—do win some attention. But the ongoing resistance to still-expanding oil mega-projects in places like Uganda and Tanzania are comparatively invisible to the outside world. The dire warnings from the UN and IEA raise the imperative for a globalized resistance with an explicitly anti-capitalist politics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
A year ago, El Salvador's baseball cap-donning president Nayib Bukele declared Bitcoin legal tender in the country—a global first that has been a flop. Since then, Bitcoin has lost half its value. Many Salvadorans, who were dubious on the plan to begin with, cashed in on a $30 government bonus offered as an incentive to download a dedicated Bitcoin app, only to delete it once they received the money. The lack of enthusiasm may have protected people from losses due to Bitcoin's volatility. But many in the country have still sunk deeper into poverty in the past year. One reason—in addition to the country's overall financial struggles—is a crackdown on gang violence by the self-described "dictatorial" president that has seen more than 52,000 alleged gang members rounded up since March. Instead of catching criminals, innocent people are being arrested to meet quotas. The majority of those detained may not even have links to gangs, according to local media, and the arrests have left many poor families without breadwinners.
More than 500 indigenous leaders from across the Amazon, meeting in Lima Sept. 7, issued an urgent call for the world to act against the destruction of the planet's largest rainforest. The statement, "Amazonia Against the Clock," was approved by the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), at a summit of representatives from nine countries. (EFE) The statement invokes the Emergency Motion 129 issued in September 2021 in Marseille by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), calling for "permanent protection" of the remaining 80% of intact rainforest by 2025. (InfoRegion)
Authorities in Sierra Leone imposed a nationwide curfew on Aug. 10, amid anti-government protests, in which a still undetermined number of people have been killed, apparently including at least four police officers. In the capital Freetown, protesters barricaded the streets and clashed with security forces, enraged at a 40% spike in the cost of living. A key demand is the resignation of President Julius Maada Bio, who is on a month-long vacation with his family in London—a trip apparently paid for with misappropriated public funds.
Argentina has seen weeks of mass protests in response to a rapidly deepening economic crisis. Prices for basic goods are skyrocketing, leaving many struggling to make ends meet. The protest wave began on Argentina's independence day, July 9, when thousands marched on the presidential palace. Dubbed the "Argentinazo," the mobilization was held in Buenos Aires and cities across the country. Last week, center-left President Alberto Fernández named his second new economy minister in less than a month, as his own coalition has fractured over how to handle the burdensome national debt.
China's banking regulator on July 24 announced that it has opened an investigation into officials at its bureau in Henan province, which this month saw protests by depositors unable to withdraw funds. The China Banking & Insurance Regulatory Commission said a local inspector is suspected of "serious disciplinary violations" concerning fraud and embezzlement at five rural lenders. Several members of a "criminal gang" accused of taking control of the banks have been arrested. The situation turned violent on July 10, after some 1,000 depositors protested outside the People's Bank of China branch in Zhengzhou, demanding access to their savings in frozen accounts. The protesters were assaulted by a group of unidentified men in matching white outfits, as police held back and did not intervene. Video of the incident went viral on social media.
Sri Lanka's newly appointed acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe unleashed police and army troops against remnant protesters at an encampment site in the capital, Colombo, in the early hours of July 22. More than 50 were injured in the raid and some 10 arrested. Military personnel also reportedly detained a small group of protesters for several hours and severely beat them before they were released. Just hours before the raid, protest leaders had announced that they would disband the encampment the following day, in response to a court order. The site had been occupied by protesters since March, when an uprising began in response to near-total economic collapse in the country.
Governments around the world are scrambling to shore up economies hard hit by rising oil and wheat prices as a resut of the Ukraine war. Ghana has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency relief after angry protesters flooded the streets of the capital Accra last week. Clashes with police left several wounded and some 30 arrested on June 29. Protests were called under the slogan "Arise Ghana" to pressure President Nana Akufo-Ad to address a dramatic spike in the cost of food and fuel. (Reuters, Al Jazeera, AfricaNews)