We Are Human, but in the Dark We Wish for Light: The Third Newsletter (2022)

Thursday, 20 January 2022 — The Tricontinental

Carelle Homsy (Egypt), Liberté Egypte, 2009.

Dear friends,

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

For over a decade, Alaa Abd el-Fattah has been in and out of Egypt’s prisons, never free of the harassment of the military state apparatus. In 2011, during the high point of the revolution, Alaa emerged as an important voice of his generation and since then has been a steady moral compass despite his country’s attempts to suffocate his voice. On 25 January 2014, to commemorate the third anniversary of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak’s government, Alaa and the poet Ahmed Douma wrote a moving epistle from their dungeon in Tora Prison, Cairo. This prison, which houses Alaa and other political prisoners, is not far from the beautiful Nile and – depending on Cairo’s traffic – not too far from the Garden City office of Mada Masr, where the epistle was published. In cities such as Cairo, the prisons where political prisoners are tortured are often located in quite ordinary neighbourhoods.

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We Will Build the Future: A Plan to Save the Planet

Monday, 10 January 2022 — The Tricontinental

Under the leadership of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – People’s Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP), Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research partnered with 26 research institutes from around the world to draft A Plan to Save the Planet. This living, evolving document puts forward a vision for the present and the immediate future centred on twelve key themes: democracy and the world order, the environment, finance, health, housing, food, education, work, care, women, culture, and the digital world. Dossier no. 48 includes and elaborates on the Plan and lays out our orientation, principles, and horizon.

A Programme for a Future Society That We Will Build in the Present: The Second Newsletter (2022)

Thursday, 13 January 2022 — Tricontinental

Chittaprosad, Indian Workers Read, n.d.

Dear friends,

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

In October 2021, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a report that received barely any attention: the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021, notably subtitled Unmasking disparities by ethnicity, caste, and gender. ‘Multidimensional poverty’ is a much more precise measurement of poverty than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. It looks at ten indicators divided along three axes: health (nutrition, child mortality), education (years of schooling, school attendance), and standard of living (cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets). The team studied multidimensional poverty across 109 countries, looking at the living conditions of 5.9 billion people. They found that 1.3 billion – one in five people – live in multidimensional poverty. The details of their lives are stark:

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The Highest Attainable Standard of Health Is a Fundamental Right of Every Human Being: The First Newsletter (2022)

Thursday, 6 January 2022 — Tricontinental

Ryuki Yamamoto (Japan), Chaos – Spin, 2019.

Dear friends,

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

As we enter the new year almost two years after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic on 11 March 2020, the official death toll from COVID-19 sits just below 5.5 million people. WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that there is a ‘tsunami of cases’ due to the new variants. The country with the highest death toll is the United States, where the official number of those who succumbed to the disease is now over 847,000; Brazil and India follow with nearly 620,000 and 482,000 deaths respectively. These three countries have been ravaged by the disease. The political leadership of each of these countries failed to take sufficient measures to break the chain of infection and instead offered anti-scientific advice to the public, who suffered from both a lack of clear information and relatively depleted health care systems.

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We Dance into the New Year Banging Our Hammers and Swinging Our Sickles: The Fifty-Second Newsletter (2021)

30 December 2021 — Tricontinental

PS Jalaja India We Surely Can Change the World 2020P.S. Jalaja (India), We Surely Can Change the World, 2021.

Dear friends,

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

Bittersweet is the passage of this year. There have been some immense victories and some catastrophic defeats, the most terrible being the failure of the Global North countries to adopt a democratic attitude towards confronting the COVID-19 pandemic and creating equitable access to key resources, from life-saving medical equipment to vaccines. Tragically, by the end of this pandemic, we will have learnt the Greek alphabet from the variants named after its letters (Delta, Omicron), which continue to emerge.

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I Want to Get Our Rights from the Americans Who Harmed Us: The Fifty-First Newsletter (2021)

23 December 2021 — Tricontinental

Latif al Ani Iraq Eid in Baghdad 1959Latif al-Ani (Iraq), Eid festivities in Baghdad, 1959.

Dear friends,

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

On 12 July 2007, two US AH-64 Apache helicopters fired 30-millimetre cannon rounds at a group of Iraqi civilians in New Baghdad. These US Army gunners murdered at least a dozen people, including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver Saeed Chmagh. Reuters immediately asked for the US to conduct a probe into the killing. Instead, they were fed the official story by the US government that soldiers of Bravo Company, 2-16 infantry had been attacked by small arms fire as part of their Operation Ilaaj in the al-Amin al-Thaniyah neighbourhood. The soldiers called in air strikes, which came in and cleared the streets of insurgents. Reuters had information that the helicopters filmed the attack, and so the media house requested the video from the US military. The United States refused, claiming that there was no such video.
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They Won’t Ever Find Us Because Our Love Is Bound to the Rocks: The Fiftieth Newsletter (2021)

15 December 2021 — TRicontinental

Newsletter art foto de Victor BasterraPhotographs by Victor Basterra (Argentina) / collage by Daniela Ruggeri, Unknown victims and prisoners at the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), 1976-1983.

Dear friends,

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

At the US State Department’s Summit for Democracy (9–10 December), US President Joe Biden announced a range of initiatives to ‘bolster democracy and defend human rights globally’. These measures are to be funded by $424.4 million from the United States. This money will go towards the same institutions that have – for the past sixty years – intervened to undermine the sovereignty of democratic processes from Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954) to Honduras (2009) and Bolivia (2019). The US focuses on falsely portraying governments that are unwilling to accept US leadership as corrupt – as was with the case Brazil’s ‘soft coup’ against former Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva – all while shielding its allies who have documented evidence of corruption – such as the outgoing Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose political bloc was defeated by the left in the recently conducted presidential election. Washington’s measures amount to a ‘Plan to Destabilise the Planet’, a stark contrast with the ‘Plan to Save the Planet’ recently launched by twenty-six research institutes.

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The Fierce Determination of Ordinary People to Build an Extraordinary World: The Forty-Ninth Newsletter (2021)

9 December 2021 — Tricontinental

Mwamba Chikwemba (Zambia), Power, 2019.

Dear friends,

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

United States President Joe Biden has suborned 111 countries to attend his Summit for Democracy on December 9–10, ending on Human Rights Day. ‘We welcome all countries, organisations, and individuals to support the goals of the Summit’, the US State Department wrote. However, there are 82 countries that have not been invited, including two large countries that are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the People’s Republic of China and Russia) and two small countries from the Caribbean (Cuba and Haiti). In the name of democracy, the US government is pushing its own agenda to consolidate power and further its national interests. This is not a summit for democracy as much as it is a summit for bringing together a grouping to refurbish the tarnished image of the United States.

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We Have to Stand on Our Ground, the Best Ground from Which to Reach the Stars: The Forty-Eighth Newsletter (2021)

2 December 2021 — Tricontinental

Likbez (USSR), Tatar Literacy Club, 1935.

Dear friends,

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

Almost every single child on the planet (over 80% of them) had their education disrupted by the pandemic, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural (UNESCO) agency. Though this finding is startling, it was certainly necessary to close schools as the infectious COVID-19 virus tore through society. What has been the impact of that decision on education? In 2017 – before the pandemic – at least 840 million people had no access to electricity, which meant that, for many children, online education was impossible. A third of the global population (2.6 billion people) has no access to the internet, which – even if they had electricity – makes online education impossible. If we go deeper, we find that the rates of those who do not have access to the gadgets necessary for online learning – such as computers and smartphones – are even more dire, with two billion people lacking both. To have physical schools closed, therefore, has resulted in hundreds of millions of children around the world missing school for nearly two years.

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This Victory Gives Confidence for Future Struggles: The Forty-Seventh Newsletter (2021)

25 November 2021 — Tricontinental

AIKS member at Singhu 01A farmer at the protest encampment at Delhi’s Singhu Border carries the flag of the All India Kisan Sabha, 21 November 2021. Subin Dennis / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

Dear friends,

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

On 19 November 2021, a week before the first anniversary of the farmers’ revolt, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi surrendered. He accepted that the three laws on agricultural markets that had been pushed through the parliament in 2020 would be repealed. The farmers of India had won. The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), one of the organisers of the protest movement, celebrated the triumph and declared that ‘this victory gives more confidence for future struggles’.

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 Big Tech and the Current Challenges Facing the Class Struggle

18 November 2021 — Tricontinental

27102021 1 cover

Dossier N°46

A data ‘cloud’ sounds like an ethereal, magical place. It is, in reality, anything but that. The images in this dossier aim to visualise the materiality of the digital world we live in. A cloud is projected onto a chipboard. A vegetable is represented by a genetically modified patent. A cryptocurrency is ‘mined’ not by digging into the earth’s crust, but through energy-consuming computing processes. A GPS coordinate is mapped alongside the footsteps of soldiers. A piece of code is shown as a smoke screen of ones and zeroes. Together they remind us that technology is not neutral but serves the interests of those who wield control over it. Technology is, therefore, a part of class struggle.

Designed by the Art Department of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research based on photographs by Ingrid Neves

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20211026_Dossier-46_EN_Web-1.pdf

In the Name of Saving the Climate, They Will Uberise the Farmlands: The Forty-Sixth Newsletter (2021)

18 November 2021 — Tricontinental

Mining Cryptocurrency 2021Mining Cryptocurrency, 2021.

Dear friends,

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

As the last private plane takes off from the Glasgow airport and the dust settles, the detritus of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, remains. The final communiqués are slowly being digested, their limited scope inevitable. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, closedthe proceedings by painting two dire images: ‘Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode – or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero’. The loudest cheer in the main hall did not erupt when this final verdict was announced, but when it was proclaimed that the next COP would be held in Cairo, Egypt in 2022. It seems enough to know that another COP will take place.

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Why Are You Asking Us to Compromise on Our Lives?: The Forty-Fifth Newsletter (2021)

11 November 2021 — Tricontinental

Kang Minjin of the Justice Party of Korea COP 26 at Glasgow 6 November 2021Kang Minjin of the Justice Party of Korea at COP26 in Glasgow, 6 November 2021. Photograph by Hwang Jeongeun.

Dear friends,

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

Nothing useful seemed to emerge from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP26 this week. The leaders of developed countries made tired speeches about their commitment to reversing the climate catastrophe. Their words rang with the clichés of spin doctors, their sincerity zero, their actual commitments to lowering carbon emissions nil. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a Filipino climate activist and spokesperson for Fridays for Future, said that these leaders ‘spew empty, tired promises’, leaving young people like her with a ‘sense of betrayal’. As a child, she said, she felt the danger of being caught up in flash floods in the Philippines, floods that have terrible repercussions for high-risk countries. ‘There’s a climate trauma that young people experience’, said Tan, ‘yet the UNFCCC keeps us out’.

Will the People with Guns Allow Our Planet to Breathe: The Forty-Fourth Newsletter (2021)

4 November 2021 — Tricontinental

Chris Jordan (USA), Crushed Cars #2 Tacoma, 2004

Dear friends,

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

It is perhaps fitting that United States President Joe Biden arrived in Glasgow for the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) on the climate catastrophe with eighty-five cars in tow months after declaring ‘I’m a car guy’ (for details on the climate catastrophe, see our Red Alert no. 11, ‘Only One Earth’). Only three countries in the world have more cars per person than the US, and these countries (Finland, Andorra, and Italy) have a much smaller population than the United States.

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Being a Child in Yemen Is the Stuff of Nightmares: The Forty-Third Newsletter (2021)

28 October 2021 — Tricontinental

Murad Subay (Yemen), Fuck War, 2018.

Dear friends,

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

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – along with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – began to bomb Yemen. These countries entered a conflict that had been ongoing for at least a year as a civil war escalated between the government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Ansar Allah movement of the Zaidi Shia, and al-Qaeda. The GCC – led by the Saudi monarchy – wanted to prevent any Shia political project, whether aligned with Iran or not, from taking power along Saudi Arabia’s border. The attack on Yemen can be described, therefore, as an attack by the Sunni monarchs against the possibility of what they feared would be a Shia political project coming to power on the Arabian Peninsula.

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If All Refugees Lived in One Place, It Would Be the 17th Most Populous Country in the World: The Forty-Second Newsletter (2021)

21 October 2021 — Tricontinental

Jaime de Guzman Philippines Metamorfosis II 1970Jaime de Guzman (Philippines), Metamorphosis II, 1970.

Dear friends,

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

On 5 October, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a historic, non-legally binding resolution that ‘recognises the right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right that is important for the enjoyment of human rights’. Such a right should force governments who sit at the table at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow later this month to think about the grievous harm caused by the polluted system that shapes our lives. In 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) pointed out that 92% of the world’s population breathes toxic air quality; in the developing world, 98% of children under five are inflicted with such bad air. Polluted air, mostly from carbon emissions, results in 13 deaths per minute globally.

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Women Hold Up More Than Half the Sky: The Forty-First Newsletter (2021)

14 October 2021 — Tricontinental

01102021 SAVE 20211001 155121Junaina Muhammed (India) / Young Socialist Artists, A woman working in the korai fields, where women often work from a young age to earn a living.

Dear friends,

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

Reminder: Indian peasants and agricultural workers remain in the midst of a country-wide agitation sparked by the proposal of three farm bills that were then signed into law by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party government in September 2020. In June 2021, our dossier summarised the situation plainly:

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A World Without Hunger: The Fortieth Newsletter (2021)

7 October 2021 — Tricontinental

Ang Kiukok Philippines Harvest 2004Ang Kiukok (Philippines), Harvest, 2004.

Dear friends,

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

On 1 October, the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA), a network of over 200 social and political movements, had its public launch. The IPA owes its origin to a meeting held in Brazil in 2015 where movement leaders gathered to talk about the perilous situation facing the world. At this meeting – called the Dilemmas of Humanity – the idea was born to create the IPA and three partner processes: a media network (Peoples Dispatch), a network of political schools (the International Collective of Political Education), and a research institute (Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research). Over the course of the next few months, I will be writing more about the history of the IPA and its general orientation. For now, we welcome its launch.

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If the United Nations Charter Was Put To a Vote Today, Would It Pass?: The Thirty-Ninth Newsletter (2021)

30 September 2021 — Tricontinental

Rafael Tufino Figueroa Puerto Rico La Plena 1952 54Rafael Tufiño Figueroa (Puerto Rico), La plena, 1952-54.

Dear friends,

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

Each year in September, the heads of governments come to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City to inaugurate a new session of the General Assembly. The area surrounding the headquarters becomes colourful, delegates from each of the 193 member states milling about the UN building and then going out to lunch in the array of restaurants in its vicinity that scraped through the pandemic. Depending on the conflicts that abound, certain speeches are taken seriously; conflicts in this or that part of the world demand attention to the statements made by their leaders, but otherwise there is a queue of speeches that are made and then forgotten.

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Where Flowers Find No Peace Enough to Grow: The Thirty-Eighth Newsletter (2021)

23 September 2021 — Tricontinental

George Pamba South Africa New Brighton Port Elizabeth 1977 2Milwa Mnyaluza ‘George’ Pemba (South Africa), New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, 1977.

Dear friends,

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

On 13 July 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopteda landmark resolution on the prevalence of racism and for the creation of an independent mechanism made up of three experts to investigate the root cause of deeply embedded racism and intolerance. The Group of African States pushed for this resolution, which had emerged out of global anger over the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police on 25 May 2020. The discussions in the UNHRC considered the problems of police brutality and went back to the formation of our modern system in the crucible of slavery and colonialism. A number of Western countries – such as the United States and the United Kingdom – hesitated over both the assessment of the past and the question of reparations; these governments were able to remove the requirement to investigate systematic racism in US law enforcement.

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