Category Archives: Conflict

Conflict is an essential element, probably the most important one, in creating societies where exploitation is important.  It is easy to see in the past: one group or nation conquered another and put those conquered in a subsidiary status, taking their land, taxing them and placing them in an inferior position through various means. (See the exploitation sections in Understanding exploitation, especially  conflict theory, some economic historians, and primitive accumulation in the exploitation in Marxism section.)  These patterns frequently continue into the present, in (usually) weakened, but still present, form.  Conflict can also arise when people who are oppressed fight for their freedom.
Conflict, even narrowly defined, is an important activity. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimates world military expenditure at $1.8 trillion in 2017, or 2.1 percent of global gross domestic product (SIPRI 2019).  It does use resources that can be devoted to productive activity.
The drastic worsening of peoples’ lives is the second major source of harm from conflict. The global population of forcibly displaced increased by 2.3 million people in 2018. By the end of the year, almost 70.8 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations. They have moved from normal lives to the bleakness and hopelessness of a refugee situation.

Oppression and Exploitation News March 19 – 25

Control of land and natural resources 2020

Conflicts over indigenous land grow more violent in Central America Alexander Villegas and Frances Robles New York Times March 9, 2020
Faced with government inaction, some activists try to reclaim ancestral lands on their own. Often, they pay a high price.

Conflict 2020

USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports; Saudi Arabia is largest arms importer SIPRI March 9, 2020

Opposing oppression and injustice 2020

Darius Swann, lead plaintiff in Supreme Court busing case, dies at 95 Harrison Smith Washington Post March 23, 2020
He and his wife sued the Charlotte-Mecklenberg school district in 1965 to send their son to an integrated N.C. school.

Betty Williams, Nobel laureate and leader of peace movement in Northern Ireland, dies at 76 Emily Langer Washington Post March 23, 2020
After witnessing the deaths of three children during the Troubles, she co-founded a campaign that drew thousands of protesters to the cause of peace.

Catherine Hamlin, OB/GYN who healed injured and ostracized mothers, dies at 96 Harrison Smith Washington Post March 22, 2020
She and her husband perfected surgical techniques to treat obstetric fistulas, a debilitating childbirth injury common in Ethiopia.

Charles Trimble, advocate for Native American rights, dies at 84 Katharine Q. Seelye New York Times March 20, 2020
He dedicated his life to advancing the tribal causes of self-determination, sovereignty and human rights.

Tex’ Harris, U.S. diplomat who exposed human rights abuses in Argentina, dies at 81 Matt Schudel Washington Post February 29, 2020
Sending reports through a special ‘dissent channel,’ he brought worldwide attention to the military junta’s ‘dirty war.’

José Zalaquett, champion of human rights in Pinochet’s Chile and around the world, dies at 77 Emily Langer Washington Post February 20, 2020
A Chilean lawyer, he was jailed and ultimately expelled from his country for his efforts on behalf of political prisoners and “disappeared” people.



Oppression and Exploitation News February 20 – 26

Conflict 2020

800,000 Syrians have fled in three months: this is what it looks like Vivian Yee, Allison McCann, Hwaida Said, and Haley Willis New York Times February 14, 2020
Some crowd into trucks. Others go on foot. The current Syrian crisis is similar in scale to the Rohinga crisis of 2017. Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to escape relentless airstrikes in northwest Syria.

Language as a means of control

A function of the political use of language is to make your side sound (be!) correct and the other side mistaken. Manufacturing consent and spin are some terms used.

No. 1 sponsor of terrorism? US media name Iran, but overlook a candidate closer to home Joshua Cho Fair February 13, 2020
This article says that both Iran and the United States are doing the same types of things, but one is described as a state sponsor of terrorism, while U.S. actions are viewed as legitimate.

The US’s inalienable right to violence Gregory Shupak Fair January 20, 2020

Russia has ‘Oligarchs,’ the US Has ‘Businessmen.’ In 150 NYT, CNN and Fox articles, ‘oligarch’ seems reserved for Slavic billionaires Alan MacLeod Fair September 14, 2019

Conflict 2020

Conflict is an essential element, probably the most important one, in creating societies where exploitation is important.  It is easy to see in the past: one group or nation conquered another and put those conquered in a subsidiary status, taking their land, taxing them and placing them in an inferior position through various means. These patterns frequently continue into the present, in (usually) weakened, but still present, form.  Conflict can also arise when people who are oppressed fight for their freedom. Also see Conflict

USA and France dramatically increase major arms exports; Saudi Arabia is largest arms importer SIPRI March 9, 2020

800,000 Syrians have fled in three months: this is what it looks like Vivian Yee, Allison McCann, Hwaida Said, and Haley Willis New York Times February 14, 2020
Some crowd into trucks. Others go on foot. The current Syrian crisis is similar in scale to the Rohinga crisis of 2017. Hundreds of thousands of people are trying to escape relentless airstrikes in northwest Syria.

“I lost my two legs after I stepped on a mine laid by Da’esh [the Arabic acronym for IS] when we tried to escape from al-Shaafa 10 days ago,” 17-year-old Ammar said, as his father Ahmed drew back the blanket covering his legs, both blown off below the knee.  “We didn’t have access to a hospital, so I had to prepare his bandages at home, with salt and water,” explained Ahmed. His youngest son, sitting in the back seat, lost his legs in the same escape attempt. “I thank God we managed to flee at last,” Ahmed said. “But why did my sons have to go through all this pain?” Credit: New Humanitarian/Constantin Gouvy

Fleeing the last days of Islamic State in Syria Constantin Gouvy New Humanitarian January 24, 2020

Sibri Natana sits at a restaurant in Fada N’gourma with two of her children. In December she was forced to watch as jihadists murdered her brother. Credit: Sam Mednick/TNH

In eastern Burkina Faso, spreading violence and little international aid Sam Mednick New Humanitarian January 21, 2020

People return from Iran at a border crossing near Zaranj in Afghanistan’s Nimroz Province on 19 January 2020. (Credit: Stefanie Glinski/TNH)

Fleeing the last days of Islamic State in Syria Constantin Gouvy New Humanitarian January 24, 2020

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2019 review of exploitation and oppression in the world

Lane Vanderslice December 31, 2019

Exploitation and oppression continued to play a major role in the world in 2019. Standard economics principally looks at income obtained from production. This website looks at income or other benefit gained by harming others.  We prefer the term harm, as being correct and also indicating a range of behavior. Types of harm in a society may not rise to the level where they could reasonably be termed exploitation and oppression.  Harm, no matter the term(s) used is much more important than suggested by standard economics1. This follows Kenneth Boulding in The Economy of Love and Fear. Boulding distinguishes not only the productive economy but also the grants economy, which consists of two parts: exploitative grants from threats or ignorance, and integrative grants from love or kindness. In Boulding’s terms, this is an exploitative grant. A principal aspect of this website is publishing links to articles that describe a current aspect of harm in the United States or elsewhere; this is reviewed here.

The analytical view taken in this website is that through control of a society and its key elements of the society (economy, government, social system) some people/groups in the society obtain income from others. This income is not based on production, but some form of taking away from others. This taking away is typically resisted. So, there are two basic aspects in a social system where harm is important: obtaining income and maintaining control.  This is expressed in the principal categories used in the website (can be seen in the right column of each page).  For obtaining income, we have Obtaining income through the government – rent seeking – corruption, Harm through the market, two discrimination areas Discrimination: race – ethnic – religious – class, and Discrimination against women — gender inequality Also included Slavery, Forced Labor. Crime, Control of land and natural resources, which can be considered as important subcategories of one of the above categories. (Specific situations of harm can often fit into more than one of these categories.) For control we have categories including  Staying in power – Struggle for control, Harming People – Keeping People Oppressed and Conflict.  Harming people and conflict are part of staying in power/the struggle for control; we have made them separate categories because of their importance.

Staying in power/struggle for control

An important part of the struggle for control is between democratic/popular forces that want to expand human rights and opportunities and those who want to restrict access to key rights and opportunities to their group. HE published a summary of what Freedom House had to say about 2018. Here is an excerpt from that summary. (2019 report not yet available.)

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