This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 14 March 2016 contains two articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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– The migration crisis: a threat to a despicable world order
– Colombia: “Put an end to the degradation, dehumanisation and patriarchal subjugation of all women everywhere, and all oppression based on sexual orientation or gender!”
The migration crisis: a threat to a despicable world order
14 March 2016. A World to Win News Service. The words “Fortress Europe” are becoming a reality. The 40,000 refugees who have made it alive to Greece only to be stuck there have been offered little way out but death or deportation. There are no concentration camps and no mass killings of migrants, but the value of their lives have already been discounted by the European powers.
EU Council President Donald Tusk warned immigrants, “Do not come to Europe… It’s all for nothing.” But given what they are trying to escape from, what else are they supposed to do? They risked death to get this far, and for many, the most rational choice is to continue risking death from the cold, disease, the police, vigilantes, drowning in frigid rivers or perishing in the woods as they try to head north.
Four more countries that have been conduits out of Greece – Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia – have closed their borders “with the implicit backing of the European Union.” (New York Times, 3 March 2016) Albania deployed police to help patrol its border with Greece, to be joined by Italian officers. Bulgaria announced it will build a fence, closing the last opening. The UK is already sending Land Rovers to capture refugees attempting to cross that country and send them back to Turkey.
London announced it will send three ships to join the Nato flotilla in the Aegean. Unlike previously, these ships will operate in Greek and Turkish waters. They are not there to save anyone – 18 people drowned 13 March, adding to the preventable deaths of more than 300 people in these waters so far this year. The six ships now include two landing craft, designed to dump large numbers of soldiers or anyone else on a beach.
In these same waters, on 12 March, two men on a Turkish Coast Guard boat were filmed approaching a rubber dinghy filled with refugees and beating them with sticks. A BBC correspondent said this was not the first time. On other occasions, reporters have seen them puncturing life rafts. Inside Turkey, which kept its borders with Syria open to allow recruits and supplies to reach Islamist fighters, border guards opened fire on refugees fleeing Syria, according to the Independent (4 March), which also reports “heavy beatings of those caught after attempting to slip across.”
The European Union’s plan so far has three aspects: immediately use walls and weapons to keep the 42,000 refugees already in Greece from escaping, stop more from coming, and send as many of those people as they can to Turkey. They have offered Turkey billions of dollars to accept them – making the EU and the Turkish regime the biggest “human traffickers” on the planet. Given what Turkey is doing to them, why would any refugees want to end up there?
More than 14,000 people, from half to two-thirds of them women and children and many elderly, are trapped in the town of Idomeni, on Greece’s border with Macedonia. They are wet and cold all the time, and many are falling sick from these conditions. If they are treated in a hospital, they are released back into a tent in the frigid mud.
Greeks from this village and as far away as Thessaloniki bring food and supplies. A chef’s club comes to cook meals for thousands of people at a sitting. “Pensioners struggling to make ends meet buy two loaves of bread, one to share with those who have descended on their community; elsewhere, villagers open their homes.” (Independent, 12 March) NGO activists, doctors and others from around the world come to do what they can. But Europe’s governments seem to be waiting for these people to die or accept whatever unacceptable fate offered to them. A political decision has been made to get rid of them, and making them suffer is part of enforcing that decision.
The stakes are very high, not only for the European powers but the US as well. They perceive this situation not as a humanitarian crisis but a threat to their “security interests”. It is true that their domination is at risk. The top Nato commander in Europe, the American General Philip Breedlove, told the US Congress that “Russia and the Assad regime are deliberately weaponizing migration from Syria in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve.” The target is “the agreed rules of the international order.” (US Department of Defense Web site)
This statement, as insane as it sounds, reflects concerns roiling the whole US ruling class today, and those of its Western allies. The claim that Russia is deliberately trying to cause Syrians to flee to Europe by backing the Assad regime’s military offensive cannot hide the fact that the US and its allies have done so much to prolong the civil war and turn it into an international conflict. All the world’s imperialist countries bear responsibility for the horrors Syrian refugees are fleeing, as well as the horrors Afghans, Iraqis and others are trying to break out of. People should think about the general’s point that the military might of rival Russian imperialists and sick refugee children both represent a mortal threat for the interests he represents.
“The truth is that it is impossible for a handful of wealthy countries to benefit from and enforce the backwardness and poverty in so much of the world without having to confront the consequences of that domination,” the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group wrote (AWTWNS150928). “The current crisis is full of real and serious dangers, not only for the refugees but for everyone. But these same explosive conditions can also bring real opportunities for beginning to carve out a different type of future. There is no use in pining over the broken promises of an increasingly bankrupt European social democracy. Rather we need to look past the boundaries of the present system and begin to construct the kind of movement that, fighting to beat back the reactionary onslaught, can lead in the direction of the only real solution, communist revolution.”
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“Put an end to the degradation, dehumanisation and patriarchal subjugation of all women everywhere, and all oppression based on sexual orientation or gender!”
14 March 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following text, dated 8 March, is from Alborada Comunista, the Web site of the Revolutionary Communist Group (GCR) of Colombia (acgcr.org).
International Women’s Day seeks to raise awareness and achieve a clear perspective on the fact that half of humanity, women, are everywhere treated as less than full human beings. It also seeks to raise awareness and have a clear perspective on the fact that it is not only necessary but possible to put an end to this disgraceful state of affairs.
Domestic violence, state repression, the kidnapping of girls, forced marriage, death by stoning, acid attacks, “honour” crimes, pornography, prostitution (including by husbands), suicide, forced wearing of the veil, genital mutilation, control over the female body, displacement due to war or for economic reasons, etc., are all part of daily reality.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that worldwide six out of every ten women experience physical and/or sexual violence during their lives; that Latin America is considered the world’s second most dangerous place for women (report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime); that during the current decade gender violence in Colombia has meant the murder of more than 1,600 people every year, and that every day at least 133 women are beaten (Informe de Medicina Legal 2015).
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that of the 825 million poorest people in the world, 700 million are women, and out of ten refugees in the world eight are women or children.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that prostitution networks are spreading throughout the planet and women are bought and sold in both the oppressed and imperialist countries. They stretch from Asian countries where millions of females are sold and trafficked starting from very young, through the big European and North American cities where women from different parts of the world are even exhibited in store-front windows like merchandise, to the islands of the Caribbean and cities like Cartagena, built up to be paradises for “sexual tourism” where the “clients” pay pimps for virgin girls from the poorest and most oppressed sectors of society.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that women in this world are submitted to all kinds of control of and aggression against their sexuality and reproduction. Millions of girls are forced into marriage or killed for disobeying patriarchal norms that are part of the obsolete traditions that consider women the property of men.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that everywhere in the world women are pressured to have children as the most important part of their fulfilment and as a mechanism of subordination to men. In India, China, Vietnam and other countries women are considered a burden, and consequently many new-born girls are abandoned. Basically, women are not allowed to decide about their own body, their own reproduction and their own life and sexuality. Instead they are put under the control of the state, the church and the family.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that, as incredible as it may seem, in the 21st century some people – including people in positions of power and authority – are determined to force women to give birth no matter what their situation may be, how they feel about it or what they think is best for them. These are cruel fanatics determined to deprive women of the right to abortion.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that more than 70,000 women die every year after botched abortions because there is no right to abortion where they live, or, where it is legal, because it is restricted and hindered in an effort to eliminate that right.
It’s not an invention or an exaggeration that what’s going on, especially in the domain of evermore violent and brutal pornography, is that men are being excited by physical torture and the degradation of women, which is increasingly widespread and increasingly considered normal in pornography; and that as the whole culture is becoming pornified, one of the most popular kinds is rape porn, showing a woman actually being raped.
It’s a fact! In the “counter-subversive” wars waged by soldiers and paramilitaries, the wars of occupation unleashed by imperialist armies, the wars waged by Islamic fundamentalists and every kind of reactionary war, women are seized as booty and property, raped and enslaved. This has been going on for centuries and is reinforced and defended by the “sacred” texts of all the world’s religions.
This is a horror! From crowded cities to the most remote villages, the home to the street, school to university, the workplace to the park, on public transport, night and day, women are under the constant threat of sexual harassment and abuse. Rape is endemic, often extremely so – in Congo, a girl is more likely to be raped than go to school. Globally 120 million girls under the age of 20 have been raped or sexually abused. And patriarchal culture blames women, justifying and normalizing all this.
All the ways through which ideas are spread – the media, the educational system, the family, religion, art, and culture in general, reflect, defend and generalize the whole patriarchal system of the subordination of women. They mould the way people think and relate to each other, and consolidate women’s role as submissive to men. A degrading culture constantly bombards us to accept this as natural.
Today the universities are mired in a paralysing relativism and innumerable rationalizations for how women are “empowered” by pornography and the sex “industry”. Instead of liberation, what’s offered is “empowerment” basically reduced to the idea of women increasing their value as commodities in one form or another. This has too much influence, especially among youth, but also in general.
Changes in the economy and the struggles that arose in the 1960s, especially the women’s liberation movement, led to significant changes in the situation of women in many dimensions, including employment, while at the same time women are still subject to systematic discrimination in employment and more broadly. Today there is a growing feminisation of both “legal” and “illegal” immigrant labour (especially in prostitution, domestic service and other badly paid jobs that can be considered new forms of servitude).
The 1960s and ’70s saw the take-off of “identity politics” – restricted and reduced aspirations – according to which each “identity group” should focus on its own particular situation and demands. Similarly, the sexual liberation that was fought for in the 1960s and ’70s has become a commodification of everything associated with sexuality. Far from being liberating, this works to reinforce the notion of women as sexual objects – except that they should also “succeed” as housewives and full-time mothers.
Throughout the world in general, women are increasingly part of the work force and many other social spheres, and among the masses of women there is growing resistance to “traditional” forms of their enslavement and attacks on them. This is coming into open conflict with the necessity of the ruling classes to more aggressively reinforce this “traditional” enslavement and its accompanying “traditional morality”. This is a very explosive contradiction, a potentially very powerful force for the most radical revolution in human history.
It is possible to put an end to the oppression of women and all the horrors that go with it, and it is possible to create something radically different and emancipating. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. To many people it might even seem impossible, but that’s because of how things are today. The way things are now sets the framework for how people think. We don’t perceive the possibility of radical change because of the degree to which our vision and sense of reality and possibilities are confined, conditioned and filtered by the relations of domination on which this whole system is founded, and the traditional values and ways of being and thinking constantly generated by this capitalist-imperialist system we live under and that serve to perpetuate it.
We need a revolution to liberate women not only from one of the forms of enslavement but also from the epidemic of rape and sexual violence, beatings and abuse, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves throughout the world, the degradation and dehumanization of pornography, and this system’s many other crimes, such as hunger, the war against immigrants, the destruction of the environment, and the terrible and growing nightmare of what the imperialists are doing all over the world – their occupations, wars and torture – that feeds and reinforces Islamic fundamentalism and all reactionary and enslaving forms of oppression of women and other people.
What’s necessary is revolution and nothing less, a proletarian revolution whose goal is the establishment of communism on the world level (which, contrary to what’s constantly crammed into our heads, is a society where individuals can fully develop as an integral part of a collectivity without oppressive divisions of class, gender and nationality). People who hate the way the world is today need to step forward and join with others (taking up the most advanced understanding, the new synthesis of communism by Bob Avakian that has put communism on an even more scientific basis) to make this new society a reality. They need to unite and contribute to fighting this capitalist-imperialist patriarchal system, and as we fight the system and its whole ideology of domination, we must transform ourselves into emancipators of humanity.
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