Why is Hurricane Sandy a political issue?

Saswat Pattanayak

President Obama and his administration have been exchanging high-fives and posing for stock images to bring home the point that Sandy’s aftermath is being dealt with successfully. Reassuring this to the rest of the world, the president then visits his campaign rallies. And after his inspiring speeches are registered the liberal media spins portray how neighbors should be helping each other, how communities should come together and how individual charities make all the difference in resolving natural disaster crisis. They paint the aftermath a victory for a president who hugs the visibly grateful citizens with a confident smile facing the camera. We are Americans, and we are always victorious, no matter what challenges we face, the stenographers parrot the administration lines in corporate newsrooms day after day while raking in advertisement money for their journalistic services. Things are under control and even the New York Marathon preparations are. And if the Marathon race doesn’t start from Staten Island, no sweating required. The next fanfare championship is getting held nationwide, come Tuesday. Don’t forget to join the celebrations. Don’t forget to vote the millionaire orators back to power.

Except that, there is a problem here. Maybe too many of them to find a place in this essay. Partly because most tragedies related to Sandy are not being covered by the media whose major source of revenue is from electoral campaign teams at this point and they cannot afford to upset their bosses. And the executive branch, let alone conveying to us effectively the tragedies, is choosing to depict it as an electoral victory of showmanship for a clueless leader.

As a bystander to this ongoing crisis, waiting for the food and the milk to be stocked back in the local grocery stores here in Queens, as a jeopardized New Yorker waiting for the public transportation system to resume full service, let me attempt at painting just a slightly different picture.

The truth is there has been no aftermath to Hurricane Sandy. The storm is still very much alive and kicking the livelihoods of millions of people in this country. Being a survivor and chronicler of the killer cyclone in coastal belts of Orissa (India) exactly 13 years ago, I am acutely aware of two simple premises: devastations of a storm are not felt when its at the peak, and that the natural disasters that hit the headlines are invariably human-made trail of tragedies. They do not bring along surprise elements with them. Precisely because of such predictability of natural disasters, there are functional Met offices and salaried task force professionals who are required to address the inevitabilities all year round.

Hurricane Sandy therefore was not supposed to be a fluke nor was it supposed to render millions of people homeless and hundreds dead. Weeks of predictions and media engagements with weather maps and NASA images and boasting of American priorities were the signs of how devastating the approaching times were going to be. But what they also were indicative of was that the governmental administration and the respective agencies directly responsible for addressing the consequences were going to be better prepared, considering Sandy had claimed 61 lives in Haiti on its course. What it meant was that the United States government which is duly elected to hold offices of power to administer on behalf of its citizens was meant to be constantly prepared to face and address challenges. What it meant was that the government had access and willingness to access, all the areas affected by a natural disaster of such enormous potential. What it meant was that the politicians and those that they appoint as bureaucrats were supposed to be sensitive to the needs of the people who were going to be impacted by the storm. That, the required assistance was not just going to be promised via press meets and television channels that made no sense to the affected masses rendered hapless without electricity, but that the access to basic needs of the affected were made available to the people as they were required.

What the Obama administration has failed to act upon is everything that was desirable and possible. Five days after Sandy hit the coast, if the administration had no visual footage of how an entire borough of New York City looked like, let alone displaying a willingness to access the territory, that is a failure of the political will of an administration which has been mandated by the people to practice good, ethical and humane governance. When the media channels finally made their way to interview helpless citizens in Staten Island several days after Sandy and they found the women saying they are literally dying out of access to food and basic utilities and the President of the country is cheerfully applauding the works of his campaign team in far away political trails, that is a failure on part of the political will of an administration that was put to place to prioritize agendas based on needs of people, not greeds for reelections.

If several townships and villages still are submerged in sewage water in New Jersey, stinking to the point of turning off the anchors inside newsrooms in Atlanta, and yet the President and the governors pat each others’ backs on accomplishments and pose with wider grins to declare Obama’s bipartisanship abilities as an incumbent, it is a political tragedy of massive proportions that shamelessly cashes on distressed emotions for gleeful votes.

If the federal government can send drones to monitor Pakistani air space and fails to send helicopters to Staten Island to carry food, medicines and drinking water, and if the commercial airlines at JFK and LaGuardia are able to fly across the border while the administration cannot send essential relief items to its own citizens stuck in darkness in Rockaway, Queens, then it is crude reflection of a failed politics at Washington DC and it is time for the president to stop patting backs of his officials.

Even as the FEMA continues to be showered with praises by the president and the liberal media there are millions of people without essential amenities, access and hopes. There is no telling when the electricity will be restored, when the roads will be cleared, when the sewage water will be pumped out, when the proliferating infections will be addressed, when drinking water will be made available to millions of Americans, if at all the insurance companies will be kept aside and the government will offer assistance to people to rebuild their homes and businesses, there is no telling when medicines will reach the needy, when the toddlers will have access to milk, when the people can get food at local stores or gas at the local pumps. When long queues of vehicles parade New York City streets to wait for hours until they get access to a rare petrol pump, there is no telling when the rest of the country devastated by Sandy will be on the roads to recovery once again. When new-born infants are hand-pumped by luxury hospitals of Manhattan on their ways to evacuation, there is no telling when rest of the healthcare units will attend to the suffering patients existing in abysmal darkness in the cold winter nights.

Even a country languishing in the Third World offers its needy people with minimum compensations from the government to address emergency situations, but in the United States, the epicenter of inhuman capitalism, there is no telling when if at all, the sufferers will find any funding that are not bound by loan shark terms, just to re-envision their lives after this unfortunate and entirely mismanaged tragedy of highest proportion. There is no telling when the government if at all, will take any steps towards distributing blankets at the very least, so the millions of people shivering in devastated regions can cover themselves up and be able to at least sleep during lingering dark nights.

Hurricane Sandy is all about politics. It is more about politics than Hurricane Katrina was. This is the week of reelection for the Democratic Czar and his liberal cronies who have constantly manipulated the media headlines to suppress the truths about their wrongdoings, be it their offerings of tax breaks to the rich and the corporate bailouts for the very financial institutions that crumbled the economy, or their warmongering foreign policies that have taken thousands of innocent lives worldwide, or their incompetent domestic policies that perpetuate the jobless scene for the twenty-three million Americans in home, their refusal to admit absolute inefficiency in passing favorable laws during the first two years when they were in majority while waiting for the second half of the term to blame oppositional politics for their own failures, or their suppressing the truths about gun-control and their aiding of drug mafia in the “Fast and Furious” investigations whose truths were so dangerous for the regime that the Nobel laureate Obama had to invoke executive privilege to justify suppression of facts, not to mention their continuous torturing of the truth seekers such as Bradley Manning and those that support transparency. The Democrat Czars outrightly lied about Libya and the killing of the diplomat by citing a Youtube video as the cause behind the violence without admitting that the real causes of the massively orchestrated 9-11 protests worldwide were a result of Obama regime’s failed foreign policies of aggression that have perpetuated warfare abroad with hatred and terror funding. The American government has lied to its people about Muhammad Gaddafi and conveniently depicted him as an Islamic terrorist to gain a manufactured consent for his atrocious murder while the Obama regime was constantly funding the reactionary fanatic groups in Libya to oust the secular regime with an aim to create geopolitical imbalance in the region that would proliferate the needs for continued wars. Guantanamo Bay is still wide open and Iran is the next battleground for this regime that must win this electoral bidding once again to continue its onslaughts world over. The US administrations have historically thrived with lies and deception, most of which targeted towards their own citizens. Be it the legacies of anti-Soviet hysteria which a war hawk Kennedy made money and power off, or the epochs of Korean and Vietnam War, the US presidents have constantly lied to the American people with help from their media establishments. But what has remained a constant are the popular oppositions to the White House be it in forms of antiwar movements or anticapitalism demonstrations on the streets. What sets Barack Obama aside is the brilliant manner in which he has continued the legacies of suppressions with an ease of a successful liberal. He has perfected the skill of sabotaging peoples’ organized efforts against systemic failures and furthered it to the point where the people are silenced – with their own will. And as a result the very antiwar movements that brought Obama to power today languish in anonymity while the war-president proudly adds names to the unprecedented kill-lists and indefinite detention rolls that would make even the infamous “Patriot Act” (timely upgraded each year by Democrats) look like a highschool skit.

Occupy Wall Street movement could have perhaps sustained and even gained grounds under another administration, but the Democrats quickly seized the moment to hijack most of the dissent by depicting the White House power itself as the victim of American capitalism. The word hypocrisy lost its original meaning under Obama administration as the biggest bailouts and governmental supports to the greedy corporates of the world were successfully projected as the most desirable necessities. Deliberately manipulative statements of Hillary Clinton regarding Libyan crisis was brushed aside as the result of uninformed intelligence officers and when the emails surfaced to the contrary, both the Vice President and the President lied to the American public with such enormity that the citizens have now started dismissing Libya as “just a four deaths” casualty.

And with Sandy appearing like “just a few hundreds mess” despite devastating millions, the administration has started suppressing facts related to misgovernance and bureaucratic red-tapism. When five nursing homes in Rockway beach were directed by government officials to not evacuate even as they clearly fell within the Zone A, no one is mentioning about lack of governance. When two siblings, aged two and four, died in the storm, reporters questioned why their neighbor did not open the doors, but there is no question asked as to why the entire region was so inaccessible for officials and relief workers all these days. If media can reach nook and corners of flood affected areas to declare “breaking stories” every now and then, what possibly has been preventing the government officials from reaching out to the affected people with basic food, clothing and shelters? How long are the victims of American capitalism supposed to remain grateful towards their perpetrators for the false reassurance that they are being taken care of?

Hundreds of patients silently suffered the storm because they believed in the government for weeks that everything was being taken care of. Even after days have passed since the storm worst-hit the areas, people are still silently believing the government when the President says that everything was being taken care of. Tens of thousands of “public housing” residents were forcefully evacuated because power needed to be disconnected in lower Manhattan and yet within two days the rich started functioning again amidst cheers and whistles at the Stock Exchange right in the middle of the Sandy’s eye. And the people following their dreamy pied piper are believing the President when he implies that in taking care of the Stock Exchange, the dead will find justice. The lying President and his unprepared team suddenly turn teary-eyed and appeal to the neighbors to help each other in times of crisis while they merrily resume the services of Wall Street capitalism with generators and drinking water and food supplies without a blink. When millions of people continue to brave the winter nights without heat and fill plastic bottles with water from fire hydrants, the Obama administration loses no moment in providing electricity to the “Freedom Tower” right in Lower Manhattan catering to the wealthiest of the lot in this country.

Contrary to how the Obama regime paints the picture, the hurricane Sandy was not an unfortunate event. It was an inevitable one. What is unfortunate is the embarrassing administration in Washington DC today and the capitalistic economic system that it supports and furthers, the farcical elections that it holds by spending $6 billion of taxpayer money towards an extravaganza at a time when hundreds of men, women and children are found dead and thousands missing owing to governmental apathy and administrative inactions.

If the corporate honchos at Wall Street can get power back and running in two days, there is no telling why grieving mothers and dying toddlers must remain without power and suffer without food; communities devastated and neighbors estranged; while the government turns its focus towards “swing states” to plead for votes while condemning the victims of its administrative disaster to the whims of charity.

But then, in this strange world of Obama and his liberal cronies, the Stock Exchange has more “power” than its “natural” victims.

Significance of a counter-hegemonic culture: : An Urgent Need for Marxist Reading Groups

Raju J Das

Capitalism creates poverty. It indeed requires poverty and thrives on it. It causes and requires massive social and geographical inequality. And capitalism is inherently crisis-prone. We have just witnessed a major global economic crisis. In part because of its crisis-proneness, modern world capitalism is necessarily imperialist: advanced capitalist countries try to shift the effects of the crises they experience to politically and economically weaker countries (often with the connivance of the state in these countries). Normal mechanisms of capitalism and the combination of economic crisis and imperialism have major adverse impacts on the living conditions of the working masses in general and workers and poor peasants in the less developed countries such as India in particular.

No system of injustice goes unchallenged, however. Away from the pre-occupations of the corporate-controlled mainstream media, people’s movements against the profit-driven system have been taking place. Consider, for example, the Arab Spring, various social justice movements in India and elsewhere, as well as the ‘occupy movements’ in the US and Europe, which are bound to leave an impression on the radical imagination of the masses, even if they are being repressed. Humans have an irrepressible quest for justice and have a desire for a humane world. These various movements have emerged in response to the heightened levels of exploitation of workers, massive amount of dispossession of peasants from their property, undemocratic control over socio-economic activity and the government by large companies, and the irreparable ecological devastation and cultural impoverishment.

Many activists and movements have been inspired in their thinking by the critique by Marx and other progressive scholars of capitalist commodification and development. Ideologically, these protests and the recent economic crises call into question the legitimacy not only of capitalism, including its neoliberal form, but also of capitalist nation-states and global ‘state’ apparatuses (e.g. World Bank; IMF). This happens in richer countries and in poorer countries such as India as well.

There has indeed been an extraordinary resurgence of interest in a Marxist worldview recently, which as Terry Eagleton put it, is the ‘most theoretically rich, politically uncompromising critique of [the capitalist] system’ (Why Marx was right?). The process of resurgence of this intellectually insurgent worldview (Marxism) has been helped by the fact that the social relations of authoritarian ‘communism’, and other related views, which had acted as a fetter on the development of productive powers of Marxist research, have been burst asunder. In this context, question of alternatives to capitalism (beyond Keynesianism, state-bureaucratism, and neo-populism) – and the role of (Marxist) intellectuals whether in academy, in the media or ‘civil society’ in radical social change – are being actively discussed the world over. This has led to a series of important interventions rethinking political parties, democracy and visions of viable socialisms. More and more people are reading Marx and Marxists, and reading them critically, for Marxism is a science which must be updated where necessary. There is an outpouring of Marxist discussions including in journals such as New York-based Science and Society, world’s longest continuously published Marxist journal, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in October 2011, Review of Radical Political Economics (from Cornell University), Historical Materialism (from SOAS, London), Capital and Class, and so on. Much of this resurgence is exhibited on- online, Radical Notes itself being a testimony to this as is, for example, Sanhati.

The remaking of socialist visions – which emphasize socialism as the flourishing of optimal level of democracy in all spheres of human life – has also meant extensive considerations of race, caste, tribality, gender, sexuality and disability. These issues of social oppression/discrimination are important in their own right. But they are important dominantly because of the ways in which capitalism subordinates them to its own logic. Capitalism furthers its accumulation projects by using these sources of oppression to define certain working subjects as less than average workers who can be paid lower compensations. Capital also politically dominates the suffering subjects (workers and peasants) by dividing them on the basis of these non-class identities. An aspect of the resurgence of Marxist research is the immense popularity of Marxist dialectics as a holistic way of looking at the capitalist world, in terms of its unity as well as difference, from the standpoint of radically changing it. Such a dialectical method allows us to reflect on various methods of exploitation and social oppression as interconnected and as forming a concrete whole.

Reading Marx and those who engage in what the American Marxist, Hal Draper called ‘Marx’s Marxism’ would be more than apt at a political moment when neoliberalism, in theory and practice, is in crisis, when the turbulence of capitalist economies is part of daily life. As David Harvey and others have argued, Marx is more relevant now than he was during his own time.

The problems caused by capitalism are everywhere. These problems are, however, particularly acute in less developed countries and in the most under-developed parts of these poor countries. In many under-developed regions of India (e.g. Odisha), capitalist market relations in land and labour coexist with remnants of coercive production relations in some localities and with highly undemocratic relations of casteism, patriarchy and tribalism more generally. The institutions of the state are more or less ‘instruments’ of property-owners, including those whose main object is to subject natural resources and working people to cruel forms of commodification and ruthless forms of exploitation, all in the name of development and dollars (export earnings). There is an inverse relation between democratic rhetoric and its actual content. There is an absence of democratic values both in the economy or polity: ordinary people have little real democratic control over the way our resources and abilities to work are used. The cult of violence is everywhere. There is systemic violence as that caused when people’s livelihood is snatched away from them or when people do not have the money to buy basic necessities because of which they starve to death or suffer from poverty-caused diseases. Related to this violence is ‘agentic violence’: in some places ordinary people, often out of sheer desperation, tend to resort to violence (which is unproductive in the long run), in response to which and often to preempt which the state resorts to massive and disproportionate violence.

The situation in more under-developed regions of India and in similar other countries raises several questions. Why are these regions so poor when they are so rich in terms of natural resources and labouring quality of their workers and peasants? How does capitalism make use of undemocratic social and economic relations? What explains the inability of the political and intellectual elite to help the suffering masses in any significant way? Just why it is that the majority of our people have no access to nutritious food, decent housing and clothing, quality education and health-care as well as other amenities including safe drinking water and electricity? These and many other questions can be fruitfully explored only if we have an adequate understanding of capitalism as such and the ways in which it works in concrete circumstances. Understanding Marx is essential therefore. A proper understanding of Marx and his legacy would also make clear to people that the Marxist vision is a vision of a society which is authentically democratic and that Marxism has little to do with any political activity which is aimed at hurting individuals. Individuals are bearers of social relations. What needs to be changed is the system of social relations, not occupiers of positions in the system.

To understand the world, it is not enough to have sense-data. We need theory, this is because important aspects of the world are not immediately accessible to mere empirical observation. To understand the world from the standpoint of the majority, the working masses, we need a theory from their standpoint. Radical transformation in the direction of social, economic and ecological democracy and justice is not possible without a radical theory. Marx and his legacy provide such a theory. It would be useful to set up Radical/progressive reading groups in different places to promote a counter-hegemonic culture, a tradition of radical imagination in theory. Consisting of interested academics, activists, workers-peasants, and indeed anyone who is interested in critically understanding the current situation with a view to radically transcend it and deepen the democratic content/spirit of our society to the highest extent possible, this group could meet regularly to read the Marxist and progressive literature on topics of classical and contemporary significance and discuss it in a comradely and non-sectarian manner. It will also connect the readings and the discussions to the world around us and draw theoretical implications for political practice. There are thousands of progressive people engaged in theoretical-political struggle for justice. Often in terms of theory, politics and method of struggles, there are ‘deep’ divisions among them (including, and interestingly, over the fact of whether poor countries such as India are dominantly capitalist or not). Perhaps an understanding of Marx and his legacy would show that the divisions are not as real as they appear to be, and that there is cause more for unity and less for division: at least the divisions should be discussed in the light of theoretical discussions the foundation for which was laid by Marx. These reading groups cannot only read radical academic literature but also encourage performance of radical art in its various forms and reflect on these theoretically.

A culture that accurately reflects the interest and ideas of the majority of the people is a most democratic process to promote. Setting up Marxist Readings Groups is an important need of the hour therefore.

Raju J Das is an Associate Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada. Email: rajudas@yorku.ca

What the Occupy Movement fails to do

Prakash Kona

I never understood what the Occupy Movement aimed to achieve to begin with. Either it was too ambitious in aspiring to challenge corporate despotism or its goals were impossible to begin with. Not to mention it continues to be abstract and surreal as ever. I like to watch the protesters on TV who sometimes look innocent to me. The comparison with the Arab Spring by way of analogy is a completely wrong one. The comparison is not between apples and oranges since both are fruits but more like comparing a blue stocking with oxtail soup. Those who have traveled or at least have watched international movies with interest know for a fact that third world streets have a different character from those of the first world. Third world streets like third world life are filled with all too visible contradictions. The contradictions are disguised in the colonial economies of the west. The Occupy Movement and the Arab Spring are as distinct as Tahrir Square and Wall Street and the people who stand there.

That’s not the point however. What I fail to understand about the Occupy Movement is what exactly they intend to achieve with the “occupation”? If their aim is to make people aware of inequalities in society, the people already are in my view. If their aim is to challenge corporatism I don’t think this is going to happen by standing on a street. If the police eventually evacuated them, what do you want the police to do? To stand and watch the protesters as if it were a scene in the setting of a Hollywood film. Even if there were no police how long the standing around is expected to continue?

Seriously I’m suspicious of motives with which people arrive on a platform though I’m not cynical to the extent of doubting what the ones inspired with a sense of justice are capable of achieving. Definitely the Occupy Movement is not a prelude to a revolution of sorts. It is not a prelude either to political awakening because I’m certain that common people are conscious of the line of thought taken by the Occupy Movement. There are no lessons to be gained by its failure since not much was meant to be achieved by its success. I’m afraid very soon it’ll evacuate public memory as well and turn into one of those countless additions to youtube.com. Democracy in the western sense of the term with all its accompanying benefits in terms of being able to speak against authority without fear of getting killed or going to jail is the goal of Arab Spring. What is the goal of the Occupy Movement which is already happening within the parameters of an established democracy? The Haussmannized streets of carefully planned western cities will not allow for an armed insurrection of any kind. The European Revolutions of 1848 lead to a complete renovation of Paris and other cities making it possible for the state’s armed forces to brutally suppress any possibility of an uprising. If the Occupy Movement was peaceful and nonviolent it owed to lack of choice more than anything else. In principle I don’t think there could be peaceful movements. They are bound to be provocative in passive resistance as much as in active resistance.

If the goal of the movement is to fight inequalities it can demonstrate its true intentions in the politics of daily life. Western lifestyles which thrive on excess are anathema. The working classes irrespective of where they are from – ultimately they want those who speak of equality to work and live like the poor. Unless the protestors are one with those whom they claim to speak for, their movement will at best be cumulative acts of frustration put together. Only the discipline that comes with living, working and thinking like the masses can confront Wall Street who George Carlin refers to as the America’s “real owners.” Back in the 19th century when Jane Addams the prominent feminist and public philosopher went to meet Tolstoy, he not only called her an “absentee landlord” but asked her the question: “Do you think you will help the people more by adding yourself to the crowded city than you would by tilling your own soil?” This is not to disparage Jane Addams who is a unique woman and profound thinker in her own right but to say that the divorce between living like the poor and talking about them is more prominent with American forms of protest than perhaps with the European who might have a slightly more realistic view of life in relation to politics and change.

The fact that despite the growing poverty and unemployment no social revolt is possible in the United States is evident owing to the success of the propaganda machinery. The Steve Jobs phenomenon that occupied media attention says everything about the success of American propaganda. Suddenly Steve Jobs (who most people did not even hear of until he died) is the new hero for the young, right from Japan to India all the way to the Middle East (since he had a Syrian Sunni Muslim father who abandoned him by the way) and of course Europe and the United States. Steve Jobs like any other corporate warlord achieved his success through a combination of uncanny brilliance and ruthless elimination of competition. That’s how business empires are built – by eliminating the small in order to arrive at the big. Steve Jobs’ success is possible because he is a white guy and if the world knew that there is a Sunni Muslim Arab hiding beneath the whiteness it would have been harder for him to reach where he did.

For all their private suffering men like Jobs are contemptible to say the least. It amazes me therefore that so many people should want to be Steve Jobs without realizing that these are media manufactured heroes. These are not the blatantly impossible individual achievements that we see in the novels of Ayn Rand. These are facades that global capitalism needs to lead the educated masses to play their role in global exploitation of the poor. This “hero” making formula is used day in day out by American television and Hollywood while parroted by the rest of the world, with sportspeople or actors or business entrepreneurs in turns becoming heroes out of nowhere. All dropouts are not going to be Steve Jobs. Unfortunately most dropouts would like to believe that they could be so. That’s how propaganda works.

To date I attribute the success of American imperialism not to its military prowess which truly speaking is pretty pathetic given their poorly motivated cadres. The fact that they’ve been for so many years in Afghanistan and yet a barely armed but ruthless Taliban continues to gives them the shudder says everything about the so-called military power of the US. You need people to fight wars and not technology is a lesson that comes out rather well in the Afghanistan fiasco. Rather, it is to TV serials such as the globally popular “Friends” that America owes its real success. I’ve met people from various countries of the world who talk and think like those characters in the “Friends” sitcom. This is where we need to challenge American domination of the third world. At the same time that they are defeated economically and politically it is imperative that American hegemony be destroyed culturally as well to give alternate ways of expression a possibility to see the light of day.

The Occupy Movement if at all there is one in all sincerity should go to the small towns and take a walk through those parts of the cities that the poor inhabit. That’s where real America lives. Not in the universities and certainly not in the big cities. It is those small town Americans who are real harbingers of social and political change. The spaces that the media is not interested in – those are the spaces where real change is possible. To educate the poor and to selflessly work toward the uplift of the downtrodden classes – that’s the day the corporate world will begin to have sleepless nights.

Prakash Kona is an Associate Professor at the Department of English Literature, The English and Foreign Languages University (EFLU), Hyderabad.

Industrialisation and forms of struggle: Or, should industrialisation be opposed?

Raju J Das

Industrialisation is understood narrowly in the sense of manufacturing and broadly in the sense of the application of modern science and technology to the transformation of raw materials from nature. It is necessary for national development, as the economist Gavin Kitching and others argued decades ago. Industrialisation adds value to unprocessed goods extracted from nature and thus increases society’s income. Often owners of land – peasants – do not earn more – or do not earn much more — than those who work in industry as wage labourers. Industrialisation makes possible the production of a vast range of goods, which are directly used by people: clothes, materials required to build houses, traditional and western medicines, consumer durables, cultural items such as books and music instruments; the different types food that go through the manufacturing process, and so on. And, industry indeed produces the means of production necessary in both farming and industry itself. Industrialisation holds out the possibility of ending want and material suffering. It provides employment to the increasing population, including through forward and backward linkages. It makes it possible to reap scale economies and specialisation in ways not possible in agriculture. In part because of the above, industrialisation increases labour productivity, one of the fundamental indicators of progress, prosperity, and economic development in the society at large. Industrialisation breaks the mutual isolation of producers: this happens as they now work in great numbers in large cities and towns. Their geographical concentration will potentially allow them to fight for justice and equality in society, both on their behalf and on behalf of other oppressed groups. Industrialisation, connected as it is to science, promotes a culture of rational thinking and can potentially undermine the basis for superstitious and obscurantist ideas and practices. Given these and many other advantages of industrialisation, the Left – at least the Marxist left — cannot be opposed to industrialisation (although sections of the postmodern/populist Left are, as industrialisation is seen by them as a sign/carrier of modernity that supposedly destroys an authentic pre-modern culture). The question is: what form of industrialisation should the Left endorse in theory and practice? What happens when, for example, a proposed SEZ (special economic zone) displaces thousands of peasants? Should industrialisation be endorsed under this situation?

To answer this question, one may start with agriculture. Land is the most important means of production in agriculture, at least at the current stage when farming is relatively less capital-intensive. Fertility of land is a product of natural forces as well as human investments. It is normally the case that human investments in land to raise land fertility happen closer to existing centres of population and commerce than away from these. Fertile tracts of land therefore are generally located closer to existing centres of population and commerce. Now, owners of industry need also land. But their need for land is different. They need to locate their factories on: land is not used as an input in the way it is used in farming. And in a market economy, they need land in a specific location: industry tends to be located closer to existing centres of population and commerce for the reason that greater profits are made possible by greater geographical accessibility. Therefore, the fight over industrialisation often becomes a fight between owners of industry and owners of land (including peasants). This fight is over not just an absolute piece of land but over its location.

To be able to understand the on-going struggles over industrialisation, we have to carefully distinguish between industrialisation per se which is necessary in all modern societies from its various historically specific forms, and we need to also distinguish between various forms of struggle over industrialisation.
There is a strong logic to locating industry on the land which is not currently cultivated or irregularly cultivated, in relatively less accessible locations and away from the locations of fertile land on which peasants are currently dependent on or which may soon be used. Why? Firstly, as mentioned above, industry does not need fertile land as an input. Location of a factory on or close to a fertile land destroys natural fertility of soil which is almost impossible to manufacture in industry. It is indeed a great social cost to use a fertile land for industrialisation which does not need it. Secondly, forcing the industry to locate in these areas (e.g. relatively less accessible areas, away from fertile land) will result in the development of new means of transportation and communication (which will also create jobs). Industrialisation in these less accessible locations will also give an impetus to agriculture. It is unfortunate that when industries could be located in more remote locations on land that is relatively less fertile, they are being located on currently cultivated fertile land. This must be fought against. This is one form of struggle over industrialisation.

If, however, a fertile land currently being cultivated must absolutely be used for an SEZ — and whether this must be the case should be democratically decided and not decided by business — several conditions must be laid out. The value of the land as a compensation to the family must be determined in relation to what the value of the land would be after the industries have come up. Under no circumstances must the living standards of the families losing the land and the families losing access to employment on that land (farm labourers, tenants) be allowed to be worse than what they were before the change in the use of the land. Indeed, because industrialisation will make possible greater production of wealth and because this is possible only by displacing the people who currently occupy the land and depend on its use, it must be an absolute precondition of displacement that their material and cultural needs (adequate food, clothes, shelter, education, health care, etc.) are satisfied (including by giving employment to at least a single person from every affected family with a living wage in the industry) and that environmental sustainability of the place and nearby-places is maintained. Investment must be made in the lives of the people who are affected before the investment is made in the SEZ itself. This will not happen automatically. This requires democratically mobilised struggle. This is the second form of struggle over industrialisation.

Peasants as peasants have been involved in heroic battles over dispossession from their land – in Bengal, in northern Orissa, in Maharashtra, and so many other places. This is not the decisive battle against the industrialist class (domestic or foreign), however. The decisive battle against it cannot be, and will not be, fought by peasants as property owners against dispossession, although local and temporary success is possible. The battle against unjust dispossession can only be successfully fought by urban workers in an alliance with peasants and rural workers. Note also that the issue of peasants being separated from land is not a single separable visible act of a group of industrialists, backed by the state. Given, for example, the high costs of farm inputs which come from the industry and given the decreasing prices of farm products from which industry benefits, millions are going into debt, and to clear their debt, peasants are selling their land. Many are leasing their land to better-off farmers, including those who enter into contract with industrialists, domestic and foreign, to produce farm products for industrial processing. There is therefore a potential site of struggle against this insidious form of dispossession from land. The industrialists who set up an SEZ by displacing peasants from land and the industrialists who benefit from high prices of goods sold to peasants which contribute to their economic unviability and separation from land are both members of the same family. The fight against high prices of industrial goods used by peasants is therefore an important part of the fight for a particular form of industrialisation, one that would seek to remove the differences between peasants and industry and the relations of oppression between them.

There is still another form of struggle over industrialisation. Peasants turned into the proletariat in the SEZs, in newly industrialising areas – whether located on fertile land, displacing peasants or in remote locations — will and must fight against the monied class, initially for better wages and working conditions. One may respond by saying that the SEZ framework of industrialisation does not allow for the working class organisation. But then who said that the SEZ must be a necessary form of industrialisation? Or if it does, who said that an SEZ – understood as an industrial cluster — must be one where workers are to be alienated from their democratic right to organise? If business has the right to make money, then surely, and in the interest of democracy, workers have the right to organise to demand a decent life? This is the fourth form of struggle over industrialisation, the struggle that connects workers of different industrial clusters and cities politically and that demands that industrialisation must be of a particular form such that those who do the work must be fully able to meet their social and cultural needs. An SEZ, an industrial project is not based on a one-time act of separating people from their land and livelihood. Much rather, the particular form of industrialisation that is in question is based on a continuous separation: separation of people from the product of their labour, from their blood and sweat. It represents endless money-making at one pole and limitless misery at another. This form of industrialisation does not just produce things that are of potential use. It reproduces an invisible relation of separation of masses from their lives, a relation between them and those who control their lives at work (and outside). So because separation of people from their land creates a ground for the second form of separation, the struggle against the former must be connected to the struggle over the latter, and can only be fully successful if it is connected that way.

Protecting the peasants does not necessarily mean protecting the peasant property. If industrialisation can better the conditions of peasants (i.e. outside of farming), perhaps ‘sacrificing’ their property to make room for industrialisation can be favourably considered. Everyone must be provided with an opportunity to live a life with dignity. Whether it is in industry or farming should, ordinarily, be beside the matter. But there is an ‘if’, as in ‘If industrialisation can better conditions of life of peasants…’. Industrialisation, whether led by state-capital or private capital has not done much for millions of peasants. And it won’t unless it is a site of contestation.

The current struggles around SEZs and displacement appear to be a little narrow. They are often too defensive. The message of these struggles seems to be: ‘don’t take away our land, leave us alone (to our misery)’. The struggle against displacement should be a part of larger family of struggles, i.e. struggles over industrialisation as such. This is because the objects of struggle are objectively inter-connected. The fight against SEZs must be a fight against a particular existing form of industrialisation which leads to double dispossession: political acts of dispossession or primitive accumulation and dispossession through market mechanisms (rising prices of industrial goods leading to debt). A part of the fight should also be within SEZs (and other industrialised areas). Seen in another way, the fight against SEZs and displacement is a fight for a certain form of industrialisation, which, in turn, is a fight for (deepening) democracy and for the satisfaction of social, cultural and ecological needs of those who are displaced to make room for industries, those who lose land because of rising prices of industrial goods, and those who work inside the industrial areas.

Raju J Das is an Associate Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada. Email: rajudas@yorku.ca

Urban Poverty: A South Delhi Slum



Slum dwellers in Bhubaneswar fight the police – A Report


Two hundred and fifty-nine families (1195 people) resided in sixty year old Narayani Basti (slum near Unit 8 DAV School, Bhubaneswar) till the 29th of January 2011. On the 29th of January 2011, ten platoons of police with 9 platoons armed force and DCP and Commissioner of police went into the region and demolished the slums. Slum dwellers protested and many of them were seriously injured in their struggle against local goons and police who assaulted women. The police arrested hundred slum dwellers which included forty nine women. These women were kept locked in a van and were not allowed to leave the van for any reason. On the 30th of January local goons present did not allow either food or water to reach these people after they forcefully returned to their slums. Food prepared by the people from outside (Basti Suraksha Manch) was also not allowed to reach these people. The people organized themselves and started throwing stones at the local goons to get some time to collect and store food. Dodgers came again but this time failed to oust the organized masses. The people of the slums have now decided to take up arms (anything they have at their disposal, hammers, knives, etc) against anyone who tries to come to attack them.

Courtesy: The Hindu

These people living in the slums of Narayan Basti have been attacked by the police without Notice several times before. For the first time it happened in 16th of December, 2009 and since then there has been continuous opposition by slum dwellers against any attack by the forces of the Government. Through protests, they have been able to force dodgers back that had come to demolish the slums and this they have been able to do for about seven to eight times. The recent attacks before the demolition were made continuously from the 10th to 14th January, 2011.

There are several such slums in Bhubaneswar who fear demolition and the Basti Suraksha Manch of Bhubaneswar is playing a leading role in organizing these people. According to the Basti Suraksha Manch, the demolition of these slums is illegal. According to Orissa Municipal Corporation Act Chapter 21, slums are classified as Tenable (which can’t be moved to other places) and Untenable (which can be moved to other places). The Narayan Basti slum is declared Tenable according to this act with its code being 3301 (every slum has a code). In spite of their having tenable status, the Government doesn’t even give alternative accommodation, rather, has a ‘transit house’ (about three kilometers away in Niladri Vihar) where these people will be given accommodation for 15-30 days only and will be left to their own. One can judge how the Government sees its people when one finds that these transit houses have two toilets for two hundred families.

The following is a copy of the letter written to Chief Justice of Orissa High Court:

The Honourable Chief Justice
Odisha High Court, Cuttack
Sub: Pray for justice


49 women of Narayani Basti (Khandagiri PS, Bhubaneswar) are illegally detained in the Khandagiri PS at night(after sunset) on dtd.29.01.2011. Who were forcibly evicted from their slum in spite of High court judgment in writ petition(C) No. 11667/2010 and writ petition(C) No. 12723/2010.

You are therefore, requested to kindly intervene the matter in the interest of justice.

Yours faithfully,

Pramila Behera
Plot No. 1819 (opp N6/10)
IRC Village, Bhubaneswar-15

Lawful, Playful & Busy Delhi


For a slideshow click on the photo…

“Jhuggi dwellers are not to be treated as secondary citizens”: Delhi High Court

Delhi Shramik Sangathan

After several years, a land mark judgment has come in favor of slum dwellers. We can say that a pro poor judgment has been delivered by the judiciary on the basis of existing legislation & policies, which were denied to them earlier in several cases.

A division bench of Delhi High court comprising justice A P Shah & justice S Murlidhar has delivered the order yesterday. The case was filed by members of Delhi Shramik Sangathan of New Sanjay camp, Okhla Industrial area, New Delhi. The part of Sanjay camp was demolished on 5th Feb’09 by PWD in the name of Right of Way and the evictees were not resettled under the relocation policy. The part of Nehru camp of Patparganj was also demolished in 2007 in the name of Right of way by PWD and the evictees were not resettled.

The case was represented in the court by eminent Supreme Court lawyer Sh Prashant Bhushan & his committed team. The DSS members of New Sanjay camp put a lot of effort in collecting information & evidences in support of the case. The central team of DSS provided all secondary information & other inputs. The DSS local team worked with assistance of lawyer Mr. Somesh & Mr. Rohit of Mr. Prashant Bhushan team.

Below is the report on the judgement from a mainstream newspaper, The Hindu:

NEW DELHI: Observing that “jhuggi dwellers are not to be treated as secondary citizens and are entitled to no less an access to basic survival needs as any other citizen”, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ruled that every eligible slum dweller has to be relocated to a place with proper civic amenities before being evicted from a piece of public land.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice A. P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar delivered the judgment on a bunch of petitions seeking proper relocation of jhuggi dwellers whose slums set up at various places across the Capital were demolished without relocating them at alternative sites.

Dismissing the argument of the Delhi Government and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi that these jhuggi dwellers did not deserve to be relocated as they had set up their jhuggis on public roads and thus violated the “right of way”, the Bench said: “This Court would like to emphasise that in the context of the Master Plan for Delhi-2021, jhuggi dwellers are not to be treated as secondary citizens. They are entitled to no less an access to basic survival needs as any other citizen”.

“It must be remembered that the Master Plan for Delhi-2021 clearly identifies the relocation of slum dwellers as one of the priorities for the government.

Spaces have been earmarked for housing of the economically weaker sections. The government will be failing in its statutory and Constitutional obligation if it fails to identify spaces equipped infra-structurally with civic amenities that can ensure a decent living to those being relocated prior to initiating the moves for eviction,” the Bench ruled.

“The decision of the respondents holding that the petitioners are on the ‘right of way’ and are, therefore, not entitled to relocation is hereby declared illegal and unconstitutional. In terms of the extant policy for relocation of jhuggi dwellers, which is operational in view of the orders of the Supreme Court, the cases of the petitioners will be considered for relocation,” the Bench said.

The Bench said that within four months from today each of those eligible among the petitioners in terms of the relocation policy be granted an alternative site as per the Master Plan subject to proof of residence prior to the cut-off date.

This will happen in consultation with each of them in a meaningful manner as indicated in this judgment.

The State agencies will ensure that basic civic amenities consistent with the right to life and dignity of each of the citizens in the jhuggis are available at the site of relocation.

The Bench ordered that a copy of this order be sent to the Member-Secretary, Delhi Legal Services Authority, with the request that wide publicity be given to the operative portion and directions of this judgment in the local language among the residents of jhuggi clusters in the city as well as in the relocated sites.

It said the Legal Services Authority would also hold periodic camps in jhuggi clusters and in relocated sites to make the residents aware of their rights. “A copy of this order be also sent to the Delhi Chief Secretary for compliance,” the Bench added.

Ethiopian farms lure Bangalore-based Karuturi Global Ltd. as Workers Live in Poverty

Jason Lutes, Bloomberg

Until last year, people in the Ethiopian settlement of Elliah earned a living by farming their land and fishing. Now, they are employees.

Dozens of women and children pack dirt into bags for palm seedlings along the banks of the Baro River, seedlings whose oil will be exported to India and China. They work for Bangalore-based Karuturi Global Ltd., which is leasing 300,000 hectares (741,000 acres) of local land, an area larger than Luxembourg.

The jobs pay less than the World Bank’s $1.25-per-day poverty threshold, even as the project has the potential to enrich international investors with annual earnings that the company expects to exceed $100 million by 2013.

“My business is the third wave of outsourcing,” Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, the 44-year-old managing director of Karuturi Global, said at the company’s dusty office in the western town of Gambella. “Everyone is investing in China for manufacturing; everyone is investing in India for services. Everybody needs to invest in Africa for food.”

Companies and governments are buying or leasing African land after cereals prices almost tripled in the three years ended April 2008. Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Ethiopia alone have approved 1.4 million hectares of land allocations to foreign investors since 2004, according to the International Institute for Environment and Development in London.

Emergent Asset Management Ltd.’s African Agricultural Land Fund opened last year. On Nov. 23, Moscow-based Pharos Financial Advisors Ltd. and Dubai-based Miro Asset Management Ltd. announced the creation of a $350 million private equity fund to invest in agriculture in developing countries.

‘Last Frontier’

“African agricultural land is cheap relative to similar land elsewhere; it is probably the last frontier,” said Paul Christie, marketing director at Emergent Asset Management in London. The hedge fund manager has farm holdings in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

“I am amazed it has taken this long for people to realize the opportunities of investing in African agriculture,” Christie said.

Monsoon Capital of Bethesda, Maryland, and Boston-based Sandstone Capital are among the shareholders of Karuturi Global, Karuturi said. The company is also the world’s largest producer of roses, with flower farms in India, Kenya and Ethiopia.

One advantage to starting a plantation 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the border with war-torn Southern Sudan and a four-day drive to the nearest port: The land is free. Under the agreement with Ethiopia’s government, Karuturi pays no rent for the land for the first six years. After that, it will pay 15 birr (U.S. $1.18) per hectare per year for the next 84 years.

More Elsewhere

Land of similar quality in Malaysia and Indonesia would cost about $350 per hectare per year, and tracts of that size aren’t available in Karuturi Global’s native India, Karuturi said.

Labor costs of less than $50 a month per worker and duty-free treaties with China and India also attracted Karuturi Global, he said. The $100 million projected annual profit will come from the export of food crops, including corn, rice and palm oil, he said. The company also is plowing land on a 10,900- hectare spread near the central Ethiopian town of Bako.

The project will give the government revenue from corporate income taxes and from future leases, as well as from job creation, said Omod Obang Olom, president of Ethiopia’s Gambella region and an ally of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party.

“This strategy will build up capitalism,” he said in an interview in Gambella. “The message I want to convey is there is room for any investor. We have very fertile land, there is good labor here, we can support them.” The government plans to allot 3 million hectares, or about 4 percent of its arable land, to foreign investors over the next three years.

Surprised Workers

Workers in Elliah say they weren’t consulted on the deal to lease land around the village, and that not much of the money is trickling down.

At a Karuturi site 20 kilometers from Elliah, more than a dozen tractors clear newly burned savannah for a corn crop to be planted in June. Omeud Obank, 50, guards the site 24 hours a day, six days a week. The job helps support his family of 10 on a salary of 600 birr per month, more than the 450 birr he earned monthly as a soldier in the Ethiopian army.

Obank said it isn’t enough to adequately feed and clothe his family.

“These Indians do not have any humanity,” he said, speaking of his employers. “Just because we are poor it doesn’t make us less human.”

One Meal

Obang Moe, a 13-year-old who earns 10 birr per day working part-time in a nursery with 105,000 palm seedlings, calls her work “a tough job.” While the cash income supplements her family’s income from their corn plot, she said that many days they still only have enough food for one meal.

The fact that the project is based on a wage level below the World Bank’s poverty limit is “quite remarkable,” said Lorenzo Cotula, a researcher with the London-based IIED.

Large-scale export-oriented plantations may keep farmers from accessing productive resources in countries such as Ethiopia, where 13.7 million people depend on foreign food aid, according to a June report by Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food. It called for ensuring that revenue from land contracts be “sufficient to procure food in volumes equivalent to those which are produced
for exports.”

Karuturi said his company pays its workers at least Ethiopia’s minimum wage of 8 birr, and abides by Ethiopia’s labor and environmental laws.

‘Easily Exploitable’

“We have to be very, very cognizant of the fact that we are dealing with people who are easily exploitable,” he said, adding that the company will create up to 20,000 jobs and has plans to build a hospital, a cinema, a school and a day-care center in the settlement. “We’re going to have a very healthy township that we will build. We are creating jobs where there were none.”

The project may help cover part of the $44 billion a year that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says must be invested in agriculture in poor nations to halve the number of the world’s hungry people by 2015.

“We keep saying the big problem is, you need investment in African agriculture; well here are a load of guys who for whatever reason want to invest,” David Hallam, deputy director of the FAO’s trade and markets division, said in an interview in Rome. “So the question is, is it possible to sort of steer it toward forms of investment that are going to be beneficial?”

Buntin Buli, a 21-year-old supervisor at the nursery who earns 600 birr a month, said he hopes Karuturi will use some of its earnings to improve working conditions and provide housing and food.

“Otherwise we would have been better off working on our own lands,” he said. “This is a society that has been very primitive. We want development.”

America the hungry

Patrick Martin

A front-page report in Sunday’s New York Times, detailing the skyrocketing rise in food stamp use, provides a far different picture of America at the end of 2009 than the complacent assurances of economic “recovery” voiced by Wall Street and the Obama administration.

The Times conducted a statistical analysis of food stamp use by county, in an effort to present a more detailed social portrait of the 36 million people currently on the food stamp rolls. “They include single mothers and married couples, the newly jobless and the chronically poor, longtime recipients of welfare checks and workers whose reduced hours or slender wages leave pantries bare,” the report noted.

Among the significant findings:

  • In 239 counties, more than a quarter of the population receives food stamps.
  • In more than 750 counties, at least one in three African-Americans receives food stamps.
  • In more than 800 counties, more than one-third of all children depend on food stamps.
  • In 62 counties, food stamp rolls have doubled over the past two years.
  • In 205 counties, food stamp rolls are up by two-thirds.

The geographical dispersal of the mounting social need for food is staggering, from traditional centers of poverty such as rural Appalachia and inner-city urban ghettos to the suburbs built up in the Sunbelt in the last two decades. The map showing the counties where food stamp usage is growing most rapidly includes the affluent Atlanta suburbs, most of the state of Florida, most of Wisconsin, western and northern Ohio, and most of the Mountain West, including large swathes of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho.

While unemployment is the main trigger of rising food stamp usage, the immediate economic cause varies widely, from the collapse of the housing bubble in the southwestern states and Florida, to the collapse of the auto industry in the Great Lakes region, to the layoffs sweeping through white collar America as the recession worsens.

The Times notes the impact on affluent suburban areas, long dominated by the Republican Party, where food stamp usage has more than doubled since the official start of the slump in December 2007, such as Orange County, California and Forsyth County, Georgia. Food stamp use has grown more slowly, in percentage terms, in cities like Detroit, St. Louis and New Orleans, but only because so much of their populations were already living in poverty and receiving food assistance when the slump began.

All these figures significantly understate the level of social deprivation. An estimated 18 million people who are eligible for food stamps do not receive them, partly because of institutional barriers like inadequate outreach services, particularly to immigrant communities—the state of California reaches only half of those eligible—and partly because of the social stigma attached to receiving “welfare,” especially in suburban areas where impoverishment has been a sudden and recent event.

According to a study by Thomas A. Hirschl of Cornell University and Mark R. Rank of Washington University in St. Louis, half the children in America will depend on food stamps at some point during their childhood. The figure rises to 90 percent for black children. The study was published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Since it is based on analyzing 29 years of data, the latter study gives a picture of the levels of social need during a period when unemployment averaged well below the 10.2 percent mark hit last month. A protracted period of double-digit unemployment—now widely predicted by business and government economists—will make more and more children dependent on federal aid to meet their basic nutritional needs.

The findings of both these studies confirm the conclusions of a US Department of Agriculture survey released November 16 that found 49 million Americans, including 17 million children, were not consistently getting enough food to eat in 2008. The vast majority of the 17 million families struggling to put food on the table had at least one employed worker in the household, but with wages too low to ensure basic necessities. The level of food insecurity was the highest since the USDA began keeping records in 1995.

These figures demonstrate that for American working people, the social reality today is the worst since the Great Depression. Some 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed. Nearly 50 million lack health insurance. Nearly 50 million have difficulty feeding themselves and their children. Some 40 million live below the official poverty line, and the figure would rise to 80 million if a realistic family budget were used as the yardstick.

Young people face the greatest challenge. According to a Pew Research Center report issued last week, 10 percent of adults under 35 have moved back with their parents due to the recession. More than half of men 18 to 24 were still living with their parents, and 48 percent of young women. The proportion of young people with jobs—46 percent—is the lowest since records began in 1948.

These figures are an indictment of American capitalism and its criminal sabotage of the productive forces of society. How is it possible that in a country whose agriculture is so productive that it can literally feed the world, tens of millions of people struggle to feed their children and themselves? It is because production and distribution take place on the basis of private profit, and feeding hungry children is far less profitable for the ruling elite than speculation in the financial markets.

These figures are also an indictment of the political representatives of big business in the Obama administration and the Democratic and Republican parties. Apparently hunger, like unemployment, is viewed by Obama merely as a “lagging indicator”—something that the American people simple have to endure, but not a crisis, not even a cause to lift a finger.

Having funneled trillions into the financial system, to ensure a return to profitability and seven-figure bonuses on Wall Street, and set his course for military escalation in Afghanistan at the cost of countless billions, Obama is now declaring that his top domestic priority is deficit reduction. After Wall Street and war, there will be little or nothing left over to meet the needs of hungry children—or their parents.

Courtesy: World Socialist Web Site