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Archive for the ‘Youth Issues’ Category

Alternative to corrupt governments

Interesting article on how to build alternatives to governments sold out to big business by a Dutch grad student.

Jerome Roos, a graduate student who lives in Athens, is hopeful that, “We do not necessarily have to innovate the new so much as we have to crush the past and intensify the already existing” communal self-help activities that Graeber refers to as “everyday communism.”[i] Roos adds that it’s important not to fetishize (a Marxist word popular in revolutionary circles) direct democracy because, “The capitalist state survives, and creating our own parallel society is not enough. We must self-organize, and then push our quest for autonomy outwards to eventually encapsulate all of society.”[ii] He points out that no revolutionary party from China to Latin America that achieved state power genuinely changed capitalism, so the goal must be ongoing social revolution towards autonomy, what John Holloway described as “the end of power-over and the unleasing of power to.” Revolution is not the seizure of state power like 1917 in Russia, 1949 in China, and 1959 in Cuba, but ongoing social struggle and practical direct democracy in the expansion of local assemblies and cooperatives.


[i] Jerome Roos, “Everyday Communism and the ‘Sprit of Christmas,’” Roar Mag.org, December 25, 2013.

http://roarmag.org/2013/12/everyday-communism-christmas-dickens/

[ii] Jerome Roos, Autonomy: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” Roar Journal of the Radical Imagination, June 23, 2013.

https://www.academia.edu/3778603/Autonomy_An_Idea_Whose_Time_Has_Come

Young Indian starts environmental organization, blog

Siddhant is a 20-year-old student who plans to be a professional environmentalist. I also asked him about New Delhi gaining on Beijing as the most polluted city: “Delhi is improving. Its one of India’s greenest metros and all the public buses are CNG [natural gas] powered. People are becoming more aware and are speaking up. The newer areas of Delhi are green, at least compared to other Indian metros.” However, I was surprised at how little green I saw in New Delhi and that people don’t use flat rooftops for pot gardening—or in used truck tires. Siddant told me his family has a terrace garden and they’re common in smaller cities. He acts on his environmental goals by writing and organizing tree planting. ”I am basically into cyber-activism [see his informative blog and Facebook page].[i] He is also a journalist for YouthLeader magazine.[ii])

As a high school student, he founded GreenGaians in 2009. The group organized a campaign in schools and government offices to plant trees. Siddhant added, “More than activism, I prefer to lead by example, trying to follow a green lifestyle.” About the role of young women, he said they are some of his best supporters: “They are loyal to the cause and don’t get distracted, that’s what I like about them.” I asked him what motivated him to be a teen changemaker; “I guess my motivation came from my love for the planet. When children used to watch Cartoon Network, I would watch National Geographic or Discovery. I became a vegetarian when I was nine due to ethical reasons.” Being a Hindu is another influence, “The respect I have for other creatures has come from my religion. We worship the elements, and therefore respect them.” His parents are both teachers and “have always been very supportive in everything I’ve done.”

Chinese Protest ad valuing a woman’s marriage over her achievements

On Feb 6 2014, netizen “Cai Puning” organized a campaign on Sina Weibo to protest against Baihe. Within less than two days, over 7 million people joined the campaign. They urged that the commercial should be banned and the Baihe website should apologize to the netizens.

One netizen “Lao Chao” commented on Weibo:

Before the dying old grandmother who cries urgently for her marriage, the girl rushed into marriage, and a lively life has become a sacrifice of family kinship. This is the most horrible and ungrateful ad I’ve ever seen.

http://globalvoicesonline.org/2014/02/09/chinese-dating-websites-tv-advertisement-backfires/

youth-led uprisings in 21st century

21st Century Youth-Led Uprisings

 

Serbia: 2000 President Milosevic was ousted in 2000 by Otpor (Resistance)

 

Georgia: 2003, Kmara (Enough) led protests against rigged elections leading to the resignation of President Edward Shevardnadze, called the Rose Revolution. Youth built on earlier organizing against the corrupt education system in 2000.

 

Ukraine: 2004, Pora (It’s Time) led thousands of young protesters against rigged elections.

2013, protests in the western part of Ukraine against the president’s move away from the European Union to alliance with Russia.

 

Venezuela: 2007, the catalyst for student organizing was the government shut down of their favorite TV station, a voice of opposition. Their demonstrations shut down the city but the station wasn’t reopened. Next, students mobilized a no vote to Hugo Chavez’ 44-page 69 constitutional amendments to permit him to be president for life and enlarge his powers.

 

Iran: 2009, the Green Movement protested rigged presidential elections but didn’t succeed in removing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

 

Tunisia: 2011, President Ben Ali resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia after a fruit vender set himself on fire the previous December to protest corruption. The first democratic elections were held in October with the most votes going to the moderate Islamist Ennahda party that resigned in 2013 so new elections were held.

 

Egypt: 2011, January 25 began the revolution. President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February, 18 days later.

2013, after a year in office President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a military coup backed by large demonstrations due to his attempts to abrogate power and Islamize the government.

 

Yemen: 2011, In January demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He resigned in November. Elections were held in February 2014.

 

Libya: 2011, uprisings began February 15 after security forces opened fire on a protest in Benghazi. Mummar Qaddafi was killed in August. July elections voted in a secular party over the party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Demonstrators chanted, “No God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah” and “Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt.”

 

Bahrain: 2011, protests began in February 17. King Hamad brought in Saudi troops. Angry Shia youth turned to violence.

 

Morocco: In February, demonstrators took to the streets to limit some of the powers of the monarchy. The king offered reform including giving up his divine rights and nominating a prime minister from the largest party in parliament. The youth-led February 20 Movement wanted a constitutional monarchy, but the constitutional amendments they ejected were approved in July.  Moderate Islamists won the November elections.

 

Syria: 2011, protest began in March. The civil war killed 100,000 people and displaced over two million Syrians from their homes. A peace conference was held in Geneva in 2014.

 

Oman: 2011, in the summer youth groups demanded the resignation of the prime minister, a nephew of the Emir. He was replaced in November.

 

 

How students took on Chavez and won

When students campaigned in 2007 against Hugo Chávez’ proposed constitutional amendments giving him the ability to be president for life and 43 other changes, they wanted to educate the voters to vote against the referendum. According to reporter William Dobson who interviewed student activists, the tactics they used included theater, humor and visual branding.[i] To show that one of the amendments would give government the right to seize property, they marked off school cafeterias with yellow tapes and signs that the area now belonged to the government. They placed fake tombstones around the universities marked with a political right in jeopardy and created comic books explaining the changes. They blockaded roads and would let people go through only if they could name one of the amendments. To make the struggle cool, they created T-shirts and bracelets. They focused on positive goals and values rather than attacking Chávez with his popular base. Their youth and lack of political alliances generated popular support, although Chávez attacked them for being rich kids, fascists, or “sons of the [US] empire.” When they were accused of being CIA agents, they demonstrated outside a government bank shouting that the government won’t let them pick up their CIA checks, making the government look silly. To avoid large confrontations with police where students were beaten up by thugs while the police watched, the students sent teams of 10 people to subway stations to pass out information such as a newspaper from the future with headlines about the results if the amendments passed. Despite their peaceful tactics, student leaders received death threats. They won although the vote results were never released.


[i] William Dobson. The Dictator’s Learning Curve. Doubleday, 2012, pp. 153-164

21st century youth-led uprisings

21st Century Youth-Led Uprisings

 

Serbia: 2000 President Milosevic was ousted in 2000 by Otpor (Resistance)

 

Georgia: 2003, Kmara (Enough) led protests against rigged elections leading to the resignation of President Edward Shevardnadze, called the Rose Revolution. Youth built on earlier organizing against the corrupt education system in 2000.

 

Ukraine: 2004, Pora (It’s Time) led thousands of young protesters against rigged elections.

2013, protests in the western part of Ukraine against the president’s move away from the European Union to alliance with Russia.

 

Venezuela: 2007, the catalyst for student organizing was the government shut down of their favorite TV station, a voice of opposition. Their demonstrations shut down the city but the station wasn’t reopened. Next, students mobilized a no vote to Hugo Chavez’ 44-page 69 constitutional amendments to permit him to be president for life and enlarge his powers.

 

Iran: 2009, the Green Movement protested rigged presidential elections but didn’t succeed in removing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

 

Tunisia: 2011, President Ben Ali resigned and fled to Saudi Arabia after a fruit vender set himself on fire the previous December to protest corruption. The first democratic elections were held in October with the most votes going to the moderate Islamist Ennahda party that resigned in 2013 so new elections were held.

 

Egypt: 2011, January 25 began the revolution. President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February, 18 days later.

2013, after a year in office President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a military coup backed by large demonstrations due to his attempts to abrogate power and Islamize the government.

 

Yemen: 2011, In January demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He resigned in November. Elections were held in February 2014.

 

Libya: 2011, uprisings began February 15 after security forces opened fire on a protest in Benghazi. Mummar Qaddafi was killed in August. July elections voted in a secular party over the party aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. Demonstrators chanted, “No God but Allah, Moammar is the enemy of Allah” and “Down, down to corruption and to the corrupt.”

 

Bahrain: 2011, protests began in February 17. King Hamad brought in Saudi troops. Angry Shia youth turned to violence.

 

Morocco: In February, demonstrators took to the streets to limit some of the powers of the monarchy. The king offered reform including giving up his divine rights and nominating a prime minister from the largest party in parliament. The youth-led February 20 Movement wanted a constitutional monarchy, but the constitutional amendments they ejected were approved in July.  Moderate Islamists won the November elections.

 

Syria: 2011, protest began in March. The civil war killed 100,000 people and displaced over two million Syrians from their homes. A peace conference was held in Geneva in 2014.

 

Oman: 2011, in the summer youth groups demanded the resignation of the prime minister, a nephew of the Emir. He was replaced in November.

 

 

The Cause of Global Inequality–Neoliberalism

The main opponent in the recent youth-led uprisings is neoliberal capitalism, in opposition to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s widely quoted statement that that “There is no alternative!” Liberalism refers to the 18th and 19th centuries’ belief in free trade, competition, and freedom from government regulation–as advocated by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations (1776). After the depression of the 1930s, liberalism was challenged by economist john Maynard Keynes who said that governments must invest in full employment in order for capitalism to expand. “Neo” refers to the revival of liberalism by Milton Freedman and the “Chicago Boys,” Chilean students who pursued postgraduate studies under Friedman at the University of Chicago. They implemented neoliberal policies after the US backed coup in 1973. It ousted democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende replacing him with dictator Augusto Pinochet. Privatization of education that ensued led to the student uprisings in Chile. Other Latin American countries followed as with Mexico’s approval of NAFTA grade agreement that resulted in wage reduction and increased cost of living.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher operated under neoliberal principles of deregulation in the 1980s, formulated in the “Washington Consensus” of 1989. It advocated deregulation, liberalization and privatization.  President Ragan’s “trickle-down” economics was the neoliberal belief that unfettered ability to get rich will generate jobs for ordinary citizens. This policty is coupled with the consistent Republican effort to cut social programs that benefit the poor. The focus is on individual responsibility rather than community good. Deregulation of finance in the US led to the recession of 2007 that led to global recession and the resulting austerity programs that cut social programs. So neoliberalism is the root of the global uprisings.

Neoliberalism is imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development bank, etc. They make loans to failing economies and since the 1980s imposed Structural Development Programs to reduce government debt and pay back the loans on the backs of the people. The irony is there is no free market as multi-national corporations dominate, such as Walmart driving down the price of wages and Monsanto selling GMO seeds that don’t reproduce themselves, requiring poor farmers to buy seeds each planting. Nor do these corporations create good jobs at home as they outsource jobs to sweat shops in developing countries, leading to increase in poverty and decline of the middle class in countries like the US and UK. They use up nonrenewable resources like fossil fuels and forests in their intent to make profits, hiring pseudo-scientists to be climate change deniers. Fighting to control these scarce resources has lead to non-stop wars in the Middle East. Wars also earn profits for suppliers; Vice-President Dick Cheney’s Halliburton (he was CEO and Chairman until 2000) made over $39 billion on the Iraq War.[i]


[i] Angelo Young, “Cheney’s Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War,” International Business Times, March 13, 2013.

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/16561-focus-cheneys-halliburton-made-395-billion-on-iraq-war

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