Your Privileges Are Not Universal: The Eighth Newsletter (2021)

25 February 2021 — Tricontinental

José Balmes Chile Lota el Silencio 2007José Balmes (Chile), Lota el Silencio, 2007.

Dear friends,

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

Stencilled in red on the walls of Santiago, Chile is a statement of fact: ‘your privileges are not universal’ (tus privilegios no son universales). This is a factual declaration because the privileges of power and property are not shared across the gaping class divide. Consider the fact that before the pandemic struck last year, over 3 billion people – or half the world’s population – had no access to health care. This data appears in a 2017 World Health Organisation (WHO) report that tracks important matters such as access to basic household sanitation (lacked by 2.3 billion people) and medical care for uncontrolled hypertension (suffered by 1 billion people).

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Sometimes Marx’s Capital Is a Pillow, Sometimes It Obliges Us to Deepen Our Struggles: The Seventh Newsletter (2021)

18 February 2021 — Tricontinental

20210204 Dossier 37 Social Media EN Web 1

Dear friends,

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

In 1911, a young Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969) arrived in France, which had colonised his homeland of Vietnam. Though he had been raised with a patriotic spirit committed to anti-colonialism, Ho Chi Minh’s temperament did not allow him to retreat into a backward-looking romanticism. He understood that the people of Vietnam needed to draw from their own history and traditions as well as from the democratic currents set loose by the revolutionary movements around the world. In France, he became involved in the socialist movement, which taught him about working-class struggles in Europe, although the French socialists could not bring themselves to break with the colonial policies of their country. This frustrated Ho Chi Minh. When the socialist Jean Longuet told him to read Karl Marx’s Capital, Ho Chi Minh found it hard going and later said that he mainly used it as a pillow.

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The Three Apartheids of Our Times (Money, Medicine, Food): The Sixth Newsletter

11 February 2021 — Tricontinental

Willie Bester (South Africa), Cross Roads, 1991.

Dear friends,

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

In the early months after the World Health Organisation announced the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian novelist Arundhati Roy wrote of her hope that the pandemic would be a ‘portal, a gateway between one world and the next’. She hoped, in other words, that the world would recognise its grave problems, exacerbated by the pandemic, and that there would be an opening towards a reorganisation of the social structures. Nothing like that is possible unless the class character of the states in the majority of the world is transformed.

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Are We Not All in Search of Tomorrow: The Fifth Newsletter (2021)

4 February 2021 — Tricontinental

Oswaldo Terreros Ecuador Mural para la Universidad Superior de las Artes 2012 2Oswaldo Terreros (Ecuador), Mural para la Universidad Superior de las Artes (‘Mural for the University of the Arts’), 2012.

Dear friends,

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

In 2019, 613 million Indians voted to appoint their representatives to the Indian parliament (Lok Sabha). During the election campaign, the political parties spent Rs. 60,000 crores (around US $8 billion), 45% of which was spent by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the governing party; the BJP won 37% of the vote, which translated into 303 of the 545 seats in the Lok Sabha. A year later, a massive $14 billion was spent on the US presidential and congressional elections, with the winning Democrat Party dominating the spending. These are massive amounts of money, whose grip on the democratic process is quite clear by now. Is it possible to talk about ‘democracy’ without being candid about the erosion of the democratic spirit by this avalanche of money?

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We Should All Be Outraged, But Outrage Is Not a Strong Enough Word: The Fourth Newsletter (2021)

28 January 2021 — Tricontinental

Mahmoud Sabri Iraq Death of a Child 1963 4Mahmoud Sabri (Iraq), Death of a Child, 1963.

Dear friends,

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

Someday the world will be free of the coronavirus. Then, we will glance backward at these years of misery inflicted by virions with spike proteins that have struck down millions of people and held social life in its grip. Much will be debated about the origins of the virus and the rapidity of its spread around the world, a transmission that shows how closely interconnected we have become due to modern transportation technology. There is no going backward from the processes that will continue to shrink the globe, bringing us closer and closer together, bringing other viruses and diseases greater and greater host populations. Turning inward is not a solution to the waves of contagion that have already come before us – from the plagues of the early modern period onwards – and those that have yet to appear. There is not yet a method in our arsenal to eradicate the possibility of something like the coronavirus. Our focus must be on how we protect ourselves.

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My Wish Is That You Win This Fight for Truth: The Third Newsletter (2021)

21 January 2021 — Tricontinental

Diego Rivera Mexico The Uprising 1931 4Diego Rivera (Mexico), The Uprising, 1931.

Dear friends,

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

On 26 January, India’s Republic Day, thousands of farmers and agricultural workers will drive their tractors and walk into the heart of the capital, New Delhi, to bring their fight to the doors of the government. For two months, these farmers and agricultural workers have been part of a nation-wide revolt against a government policy that seeks to deliver all the gains of their labour to the large corporate houses, whose profits have ballooned during this pandemic. Despite the cold weather and the pandemic, the farmers and agricultural workers have created a socialistic culture in their encampments with community kitchens and laundries, distribution points providing free essentials, recreational activities and places for discussion. They are quite clear that they want three laws repealed and are demanding their right to a greater share of their harvest be established.

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We Are Living in an Emergency That Requires Urgent Action (a note written with Noam Chomsky): The First Newsletter (2021)

7 January 2021 — Tricontinental

Dear friends,

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

The first newsletter of the new year is written in collaboration with our friend, the great linguist and prophetic voice, Noam Chomsky. What follows is a statement by Noam and me.

Xiang Wang China Extinction 2020 1Xiang Wang (China), Extinction, 2020

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The Future Will Only Contain What We Put into It Now: The Fifty-Third Newsletter (2020)

31 December 2020 — Tricontinental

20201028 Bolivia Twitter e1608757979495Image in homage of Bolivian people’s resistance by Tings Chak (China)

Dear friends,

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

Towards the end of November, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres addressed the German Bundestag to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). At the heart of the UN is its Charter, the treaty that binds nations together in a global project, which has now been ratified by all 193 member nations of the UN. It is well worth reiterating the four main goals of the UN Charter, since most of these have slipped from public consciousness:

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All the Cannons Will Silently Rust: The Fifty-Second Newsletter (2020)

24 December 2020 — Tricontinental

Chittaprosad India Peace undated 3Chittaprosad (India), Peace, undated.

Dear friends,

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

Our year has been eclipsed by the pandemic, the rush of a virus paralysing societies across the world. Some governments offered smarter, more scientific, and humane approaches to the pandemic; many (but not all) of these have been governments with a socialist orientation. Amongst them is the Indian state of Kerala, tucked into the country’s south-west with a population of 35 million and governed by the Left Democratic Front (LDF). Kerala’s Health Minister KK Shailaja was later celebrated as the ‘Coronavirus Slayer’ for her leadership within a government that puts the needs of the population ahead of profit and superstition.

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The Revolutionaries, When They Rise, Care for Nothing but Love: Newsletter Fifty-One (2020)

17 December 2020 — Tricontinental

El Zeft Egypt Nefertiti in a Gas Mask 2012 3El Zeft (Egypt), Nefertiti in a Gas Mask, 2012.

Dear friends,

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

A decade has now slipped by since a man named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on 17 December 2010. Bouazizi, a street vendor, took this extreme step after policemen harassed him for trying to survive. Not long after, thousands of people in this small Tunisian town gathered in the street to express their anger. Their outburst spread to the capital city, Tunis, where trade unions, social organisations, political parties, and civic groups marched into the avenues to overthrow the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Demonstrations in Tunisia inspired similar outbreaks around the Mediterranean Sea from Egypt to Spain, the chant of Cairo’s Tahrir Square – ash-sha’b yurid isqat an-nizam ‘(the people want to overthrow the regime’) – redolent with the emotion of hundreds of millions.

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We Don’t Listen to the Dying Government of Donald Trump: The Fiftieth Newsletter (2020)

10 December 2020 — Tricontinental

Madhuri Shukla Wring USA 7Madhuri Shukla (USA), Wring, 2020

Dear friends,

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

The night before the National Assembly elections in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro spoke to a group of visitors at Miraflores Palace in Caracas. He recounted how he had been a member of the Constituent Assembly, which was formed in 1999 and set up the legal framework for Venezuela’s political system. Maduro told the visitors that he had been a member of the National Assembly during its first and second terms (2000-2005 and 2005-2010 respectively), and he was the president of the National Assembly during its second term before being asked to take on the post of foreign minister. During the election of the National Assembly’s fourth term (2015-2020), the Socialist Unity Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which he leads, lost the majority in the National Assembly ‘because we made mistakes’, he told me. ‘Let’s be clear’.

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We Are Grass. We Grow on Everything: The Forty-Ninth Newsletter (2020)

3 December 2020 — Tricontinental

Aswath Lenin met India 2020 1Aswath (India), Lenin met India, 2020

Dear friends,

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

Farmers and agricultural workers from northern India marched along various national highways toward India’s capital of New Delhi as part of the general strike on 26 November. They carried placards with slogans against the anti-farmer, pro-corporate laws that were passed by India’s Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) in September, and then pushed through the Rajya Sabha (upper house) with only a voice vote. The striking agricultural workers and farmers carried flags that indicated their affiliation with a range of organisations, from the communist movement to a broad front of farmers’ organisations. They marched against the privatisation of agriculture, which they argue undermines India’s food sovereignty and erodes their ability to remain agriculturalists.

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