2016: Crisis and Opportunity – Written by Russell Maroon Shoatz December 2016
Globally, 2016 has been dominated by political, economic, and social changes in the Northern Hemisphere. Massive upheavals have been occurring, seemingly churned up by the millions of asylum seekers fleeing wars and economic- and climate-related depredations in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.
The upshot of these upheavals brought proto-fascists to challenge the welfare states of Western Europe and the guinea pig economic systems of the former Soviet states. The Left there has either been crushed (Greece), is now on the ropes (Spain and England’s Left Laborites), or is circling the wagons (Germany and the Scandinavian countries), while Russia under Putin is using its military muscle to try to replicate what China has been doing in the economic sphere: remain independent of the U.S. and Western economic domination.
In South America, the once promising Bolivarian bloc has disintegrated. And while Ecuador and Peru continue to resist, the uplifting of the dirt-poor masses on the rest of the continent is in a tailspin, with their true leaders one step away from prison—or worse.
In the Caribbean, the Haitians continue to suffer unspeakable climate, economic, andpolitical hardships. Puerto Ricans may soon join them. The late Fidel Castro, whatever one may say about his decades in power, was instrumental in assuring all Cubans and thousands of poor allied peoples received free quality health care and education; something a rich country like the U.S. has refused to do. Rest in Power Brother Fidel.
Africa remains a victim of centuries of colonial and neo-colonial rule and plunder. Despite the heroic resistance by its people, nowadays—by and large—they are being dominated by their “Big Men” and the western corporations.
The Middle East is a horror show that needs no comment, except to point to Rojava in Northern Syria. There, the Kurds are leading a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and secular social, political, economic, and cultural struggle that we need to follow and support.
India continues its economic push, Myanmar’s experiment in “democracy”—and its civilian/military government—slowly moves along, while Pakistan and the rebels in Afghanistan continue their struggle against the agents of imperialism.
North Korea continues to skate near nuclear annihilation, due to a regime that inherited an inability to divorce itself from an ideology that has lost its usefulness. Not so for China, which is operating as if the Earth is a GO board, and is gaining influence everywhere, while the U.S. attempts to surround it, as if it’s playing chess, and the Chinese mainland is the king it can cut off and checkmate. Otherwise, for the most part, tens of millions of others in South Asia and the Pacific islands are struggling to stay alive.
The election of Donald Trump for President has focused the world’s attention on what the right wing populist backlash has made crystal clear: the neo-liberal economic engine has allowed the large corporations to move from country to country, utilizing the cheapest labor they can uncover, which has all but destroyed the elevated living standards that used to be the pride of the U.S. and Western Europe, leaving in its wake a handful of multi-billionaires who have more wealth and control than the Devil himself! And when the millions who are looking to Trump to rescue them wake up, there’s no telling how volatile things will get (remember that Americans got more guns than any people who are not involved in a shooting war).
Can a President Trump meet their expectations to “Make America Great Again”?
DOES A CHICKEN HAVE LIPS? DOES A SNAKE HAVE HIPS?
Trump will be able to get enough from Congress for some infrastructure projects to aid a portion of voters. Remember, Obama was able to push through a large “stimulus plan” to rescue the banks and GM, as well as spread around millions for a few years. But beyond something like that, Trump’s rivals in the Republican-controlled Congress, and the long established sentiments on the Right that hate ANY plan resulting in an increase of the country’s debt, will limit the jobs and “stimulus” money Trump has to spread amongst his following. When Trump goes back to his box of tricks, he’ll discover that a king cobra has eaten all of the rabbits he was hiding there. The cobra represents the little understood, galloping TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES that are rapidly replacing the need for human labor. Think how retail sales, plus truck, bus, and cab drivers, will be on the verge of getting cut by as much as the capital the few remaining giants can pull together for the DRIVERLESS VEHICLES once the mergers end. Bye-bye Fed-Ex, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, the millions of skilled 18-wheel truckers, and hello to the driverless vehicles and the drones that will allow Amazon, et al, to better do their thing, all the way down to delivering pizza! And why should forward-looking large corporations go along with a President Trump to hire his followers (except for a kickback), instead of some 3-D printing technology? I ain’t scratched the surface. Being in prison prevents me from fully researching this angle, but I can still “see the writing on the wall.”
Then 2016 has helped us better grasp the CLIMATE CHANGE threat. This is already the HOTTEST YEAR on record. And it’s admitted that the Greenland, Arctic, and Antarctic ice caps are disappearing at a rate that assures us coastal cities across the entire world will have an almost impossible engineering job in order to survive another 20 years. All the while, Trump is filling his White House Cabinet with fossil fuel advocates. Apparently Trump plans to keep his promise to “drain the swamp”… so he can then fill the vacuum with oil and coal. Great! And don’t forget our side’s failure to take baseline measures, such as fostering a culture, far and wide, of growing as much of our own food as we can.
Here in the U.S., Black Lives Matter and the water protectors, being led by the Native Nations in the West, are movements we ALL can learn from, while continuing to support the human rights they are fighting for.
Closer to home, the Prison Industrial Complex continues to destroy lives: Mumia Abu-Jamal and thousands of other prisoners are being denied Hep-C treatment and other basic medical care.
NEVER FORGET that Trump vowed to round up and deport MILLIONS of undocumented peoples ASAP. That is certain to more than double the numbers of people being held!
On a personal level, I continue to (again) teach myself to “walk and chew gum” through Square Stepping and Tai Chi. Being forced to limit my leg workouts to tiny control unit cells and exercise cages for decades robbed me of the ability to mount stairs and even turn once through a doorway, since I was always all but carried along in chains whenever I left said cells. Though I maintained my leg strength, outside of walking in a straight line, my balance resembles that of a toddler, though much better than when I first got out of that hell hole!
I’m re-bonding with extended family members as well.
WITHIN ANY CRISIS RESTS OPPORTUNITIES. I’m calling on EVERYONE to rise to this challenge and figure out ways to overcome these added difficulties, as you can count on me to do.
Finally, you must get others to join you in deluging the White House and President Obama with the message that to protect his legacy amongst the world’s progressive people, HE MUST USE HIS POWERS TO RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS UNDER HIS ULTIMATE CONTROL BEFORE LEAVING OFFICE.
Love and Solidarity! STRAIGHT AHEAD!