Hunger Will Kill Us Before Coronavirus: The Thirty-Ninth Newsletter (2020)

24 September 2020 — Tricontinental

Baasanjav Choijiljav Mongolia Promise 2018 3Baasanjav Choijiljav (Mongolia), Promise, 2018.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

In April 2020, a month after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the pandemic, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the numbers of people who lived with acute hunger around the world would double due to COVID-19 by the end of 2020 ‘unless swift action is taken’. A report from the Global Network Against Food Crises – which is comprised by the WFP, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and the European Union – said that the pandemic would ensure the highest level of food insecurity since 2017.

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Wise People Know That Winning a War Is No Better Than Losing One: The Thirty-Eighth Newsletter (2020)

17 September 2020 — Tricontinental

Liu Bolin China Guernica 2016 e1600288724989Liu Bolin (China), Guernica, 2016

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Dedicated to Soni Prashad, 1929-2020, who spent her life looking for a better world.

US President Donald Trump and his ‘war council’ – led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – have amplified their aggression against China. What began as a trade dispute in the 1990s has now escalated into the United States making an existential challenge against China.

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Not Just an Orchard, Not Merely a Field, We Demand the Whole World: The Thirty-Seventh Newsletter (2020)

10 September 2020 — Tricontinental

06 Telangana Mallu Swarajyam Copy cópia 9Sunil Janah, Mallu Swarajayam and other members of an armed squad during the Telangana armed struggle, 1946-1951.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

When news of the revolution in the Tsar’s empire filtered into British-dominated India in 1917-1918, the reception was universal: if they could overthrow the Tsar, then we can overthrow the British Raj. But the temperature had risen beyond merely the removal of the British; the barometric pressure had increased in the direction of a social revolution. A liberal newspaper in Bombay wrote, ‘The fact is Bolshevism is not the invention of Lenin or any man. It is the inexorable product of the economic system which dooms the millions to a life of ill-requited toil in order that a few thousands may revel in luxury’. That economic system – capitalism – had created great wealth but it could not improve the condition of the billions of people who produced that wealth.

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Six Complexities of These Pandemic Times: The Thirty-Sixth Newsletter (2020)

3 September 2020 — Tricontinental

Staffordshire Regiment during the Plague Hong Kong 1894 6Staffordshire Regiment during the Plague, Hong Kong, 1894.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Social media, in March 2020, was awash with rumours. Swans and dolphins could be seen in totally deserted Venetian canals. A group of elephants marched into a village in Yunnan (China), drank corn wine, and went to sleep in a tea garden. With the Great Lockdown in progress, it appeared as if animals had taken charge of the planet while humans hid in our homes. But there were no swans and dolphins in Venice, nor were there drunk elephants. This was the fiction of boredom, tricks of photoshop.

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Only the Struggle of the People Will Free the Country: The Thirty-Fifth Newsletter (2020)

27 August 2020 — Tricontinental

Amadou Sanogo Mali Sans Tete 2016 2Amadou Sanogo (Mali), Sans-Tete (2016).

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

On 18 August, soldiers from the Kati barracks outside Bamako (Mali) left their posts, arrested president Ibrahim Boubacar Këita (IBK) and prime minister Boubou Cissé, and set up the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). In effect, these soldiers conducted a coup d’état. This is the third coup in Mali, after the military coups of 1968 and 2012. The colonels who conducted the coup – Malick Diaw, Ismaël Wagué, Assimi Goïta, Sadio Camara, and Modibo Koné – have said that they will relinquish power as soon as Mali has been able to organise a credible election. These are men who have worked closely with military forces from France to Russia, and unlike the coup leaders of 2012 – headed by Captain Amadou Sanogo – they are sophisticated diplomats; they have already demonstrated their skill in manoeuvring the media.

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Tell the People That the Struggle Must Go On: The Thirty-Fourth Newsletter (2020)

20 August 2020 — Tricontinental

Thami Mnyele South Africa untitled pen and ink Gaborone Botswana 1984 1

Thami Mnyele (South Africa), untitled, pen and ink, Gaborone, Botswana, 1984.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Young children marvel at an obvious contradiction in capitalist societies: why do we have shops filled with food, and yet see hungry people on the streets? It is a question of enormous significance; but in time the question dissipates into the fog of moral ambivalence, as various explanations are used to obfuscate the clarity of the youthful mind. The most bewildering explanation is that hungry people cannot eat because they have no money, and somehow this absence of money – the most mystical of all human creations – is enough reason to let people starve. Since there is ample food to eat, and since a lot of people do not have enough money to buy food, the food must be protected from the hungry people.

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It Is Late, but It Is Early Morning If We Insist a Little: The Thirty-Third Newsletter (2020)

13 August 2020 — Tricontinental

Jamil Molaeb Lebanon Untitled October 2019 3Jamil Molaeb (Lebanon), Untitled, October 2019.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Nothing happens in Beirut and Lebanon that is transparent; plots of all kinds unravel against the ordinary hopes of the population. After the deadly explosion, it was impossible to imagine that the most reasonable explanation would be accepted. Rumours flew around, except the rumours did not have their impact. It was clear to the people that this time – unlike so many times previously – it was their own political system that had to be held accountable for the enormous explosion, which came in the midst of a pandemic, a currency and economic crisis, and a long-standing and unresolved political quagmire.

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Do Not Reach for the Sky Just to Surrender: The Thirty-Second Newsletter (2020)

6 August 2020 — Tricontinental

Greta Acosta Reyes (Cuba), Neoliberalism, 2020.Greta Acosta Reyes (Cuba), Neoliberalism, 2020.

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Beirut, mon amour.

Those shattered mirrors once were
The smiling eyes of children,
Now are star-lit.
This city’s nights are bright.
and luminous is Lebanon.
Beirut, ornament of our world.
Faces decorated with blood
Dazzling, beyond beauty.
Their elegant splendor
Lights up the city’s lanes.
And radiant is Lebanon.
Beirut, ornament of our world.
Every charred house, every ruin
Is equal to Darius’ citadels.
Every warrior brings envy to Alexander.
Every daughter is like Laila.
This city stands at time’s creation.
This city will stand at time’s end.

– Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984).

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Humanity Protests Against the Crimes of Death: The Thirty-First Newsletter (2020)

30 July 2020 — Tricontinental

Frew Kebede Ethiopia Shimutt 2018 2Frew Kebede (Ethiopia), Shimutt, 2018.

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

On 23 July, World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the world now has 15 million people infected by COVID-19. ‘The pandemic has disrupted the lives of billions of people. Many have been at home for months’, he said. The trauma of the Great Lockdown is taking a serious psycho-social toll. ‘It’s completely understandable that people want to get on with their lives’, Dr. Ghebreyesus said. ‘But we will not go back to the “old normal”. The pandemic has already changed the way we live our lives. Part of adjusting to the “new normal” is finding ways to live our lives safely’.
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Some Are in Super-Yachts and Others Are Clinging to Drifting Debris: The Thirtieth Newsletter (2020)

23 July 2020 — Tricontinental

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japan), Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre, 1849.

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

On 18 July, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres posted the following tweet: ‘COVID-19 has exposed the lie that free markets can deliver healthcare for all, the fiction that unpaid care work isn’t work, the delusion that we live in a post-racist world. We are all floating on the same sea, but some are in super-yachts and others clinging to drifting debris’.

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Each Heartbeat Must Be Our Song; the Redness of Blood, Our Banner: The Twenty-Ninth Newsletter (2020)

16 July 2020 — Tricontinental

Bounpaul Phothyzan Laos Red Carpet 2015

Bounpaul Phothyzan (Laos), Red Carpet, 2015.

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Too little has been made of the fact that countries like Laos and Vietnam have been able to manage the coronavirus; there are no confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in either country. Both of these Southeast Asian states border China, where the virus was first detected in late December 2019, and both have thriving trade and tourist relations with China. India is separated from China by the high Himalaya Mountains, while Brazil and the United States have two oceans between themselves and Asia; nonetheless, it is the United States, Brazil, and India that have shocking numbers of infections and fatalities. What accounts for the ability of relatively poor countries like Laos and Vietnam to attempt to break the chain of this infection, while richer states – notably the United States of America – have floundered?

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