Category Archives: Staying in power – Struggle for control

This section considers the second of two fundamental ways in which a social system where harm is important differs from a productive one: maintaining control. It is a much more substantial problem for such societies. Threats come from two sources, those who would replace them, while maintaining harm, and those who would reduce harm.  This control takes place in the political, economic and social spheres; in the consideration here, the emphasis is on the political.

I have included three subcategories to bring out important aspects of maintaining control. Harming people – Keeping people oppressed  brings out the often brutal oppression of people by those who control productive + harmful economic systems.

Opposing oppression and injustice illustrates how people have fought against oppression and injustice. This section is perhaps an inadequate appreciation on my part for the struggle that they have waged, but it is something.

Conflict.  This is included because I think conflict is an important part of harm which has not received the attention that it deserves from this point of view.  It is thought of as “national defense” in the pursuit of “strategic self-interest” with some “collateral damage” which minimizes its role as harm.

Oppression and Exploitation News November 19 – 25

Damage to the U.S. economic and financial system 2020

Mnuchin to end key Fed emergency programs, limiting Biden Jeanna Smialek and Alan Rappeport New York Times November 19, 2020
The Treasury Department asked the Federal Reserve to return unused funds, downsizing the next secretary’s ability to restart the economic support.

A revealing report on the mid-March financial crisis Nick Beams World Socialist Web Site November 19, 2020 See the Financial Stability Board’s full report (60 page PDF file)

Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2020

Trump’s attempts to overturn the election are unparalleled in U.S. history David E. Sanger New York Times November 19, 2020 (news analysis)
The president’s push to prevent states from certifying electors and get legislators to override voters’ choice eclipses even the bitter 1876 election as an audacious use of brute political force.

They championed Venezuela’s revolution. They are now its latest victims. Isayen Herrera, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Tibisay Romero and Sheyla Urdaneta New York Times November 19, 2020
In an effort to complete his consolidation of power, Nicolás Maduro is cracking down on the leftist activists who once supported him, but have begun to speak up against his administration’s corruption and cronyism.

Opposing oppression and injustice 2020

Uganda releases opposition leader after clashes kill at least 28 Abdi Latif Dahir New York Times November 20, 2020
Two days after police took him into custody, presidential contender Bobi Wine resurfaced on Friday in court where he was charged with flouting coronavirus rules and released.

‘Now, we fight face to face’: Thailand’s protests shatter taboos Hannah Beech and Ryn Jirenuwat New York Times November 18, 2020
Antigovernment demonstrations have grown bolder, even insulting the king, but reform remains elusive and fears of a crackdown persist.

Harm through the government 2020

Egypt arrests human rights leader, continuing crackdown on dissent Vivian Yee New York Times November 19, 2020
The head of a human rights group and two of its other staff members have joined thousands of opposition figures, protesters and activists already in prison.

U.S. to drop case against Mexican ex-official to allow inquiry in Mexico Michael S. Schmidt and Natalie Kitroeff New York Times November 17, 2020
The announcement by the Justice Department was an abrupt turnaround a month after the high-profile arrest of a former defense minister.

Slavery, forced labor 2020

Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China Reed Albergotti Washington Post November 20, 2020
Apple wants to water down key provisions of the bill, which would hold U.S. companies accountable for using Uighur forced labor, according to two congressional staffers….While U.S. law already prevents companies from importing goods that were made using forced labor, the law is seldom enforced, and it’s difficult to prove U.S. companies know about the use of forced labor.

Oppression and Exploitation News November 12 – 18

Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2020

Farcical coverage of Julian Assange’s farcical hearing Joshua Cho Fair November 13, 2020

Barr hands prosecutors the authority to investigate voter fraud claims Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt New York Times November 9, 2020
The attorney general said that he had authorized “instances” of investigative steps but that inquiries should not be based on specious claims. Mr. Barr’s authorization prompted the Justice Department official who oversees investigations of voter fraud, Richard Pilger, to step down from the post within hours.

Conflict 2020

Sunken boats. Stolen gear. Fishermen are prey as China conquers a strategic sea  Shashank Bengaliand and Vo Kieu Bao Uyen Los Angeles Times November 12, 2020

Harm through the market 2020

Uber and Lyft Drivers in California will remain contractors Kate Conger New York Times November 4, 2020
The victory of Proposition 22, the most expensive initiative in the state’s history, could help gig companies remake labor laws throughout the country.

Control of land and natural resources 2020

Barbarians at the barn: private equity sinks its teeth into agriculture Grain September 29 2020

Oppression and Exploitation News November 5 – 11

Discrimination against women 2020

The rape of India’s Dalit women: It’s all about gender & class subordination Stella Paul Inter Press Service November 2, 2020

Harm through the government 2020

A regulatory rush by federal agencies to secure Trump’s legacy Eric Lipton New York Times November 3, 2020
With the president’s re-election in doubt, cabinet departments are scrambling to finish dozens of new rules affecting millions of Americans.

Trump’s historic assault on the civil service was four years in the making Lisa Rein, Josh Dawsey and Toluse Olorunnipa Washington Post October 23, 2020

Struggle for control – Staying in power 2020

Peru President is impeached by Congress Anatol Kurmanaev and Mitra Taj New York Times November 9, 2020

Two West African presidents are out of terms. They’re running again, anyway. Danielle Paquette Washington Post October 16, 2020

Democracy Report 2020: Autocratization surges, resistance grows

Cover of Democracy Report 2020. Credit: V-Dem

The V-Dem Institute, an independent research institute based at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has released its 2020 Democracy Report.

Main findings include:

  • Autocratization – the decline of democratic traits – accelerates in the world: for the first time since 2001, autocracies are in the majority: 92 countries – home to 54% of the global population. Almost 35% of the world’s population live in autocratizing nations – 2.6 billion people.
  • EU has its first non-democracy as a member: Hungary is now classed as an electoral authoritarian regime.
  • Major G20 nations and all regions of the world are part of the “third wave of autocratization.” Autocratization is affecting Brazil, India, the United States of America, and Turkey, which are major economies with sizeable populations, exercising substantial global military, economic, and political influence. Latin America is back to a level last recorded in the early 1990s while Eastern Europe and Central Asia are at post-Soviet Union lows. India is on the verge of losing its status as a democracy due to the severely shrinking of space for the media, civil society, and the opposition under Prime Minister Modi’s government.
  • Attacks on freedom of expression and the media intensify across the world, and the quality of elections begins to deteriorate. Attacks on freedom of expression and media freedom are now affecting 31 countries, compared to 19 two years ago. The Clean Elections Index fell significantly in 16 nations while improving in only twelve. Media censorship and the repression of civil society have intensified in a record 37 countries – eleven more than the 26 states currently affected by severe autocratization. Since these indicators are typically the first to move in a gradual process of autocratization, this development is an early warning signal for what might be yet to come.
  • Pro-democracy resistance grows from 27% in 2009 to 44% in 2019 amidst the autocratization surge. During 2019, citizens in 29 democracies mobilized against autocratization, such as in Bolivia, Poland, and Malawi. Citizens staged mass protests in 34 autocracies, among them Algeria, Hong Kong, and Sudan. 
  • New V-Dem indicators on Civic and Academic Space show that autocratization taints the whole society. Academic freedom has registered a conspicuous average decline of 13% in autocratizing countries over the last 10 years. The right to peaceful assembly and protest has declined by 14% on average in autocratizing countries. Toxic polarization, pro-autocracy mass protests, and political violence rise in many autocratizing countries, such as in Brazil and Poland.

Access the full report here

Oppression and Exploitation News October 1 – 7

Harming people – Keeping people oppressed 2020

The election that could break America Barton Gellman The Atlantic November 2020
If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?

Texas Gov. Abbott restricts absentee ballot locations  Nicole Via y Rada NBC News October 1, 2020
Some Texas counties include millions of people stretched over hundreds of square miles and will require lengthy drives to deliver ballots.

Harm through the government 2020

Our democracy in peril. A series of editorials on the damage President Trump has caused — and the danger he would pose in a second term Editorial Board Washington Post September 22, 2020