The New Women’s Movement to Reclaim the Commons

Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons

by Sylvia Federici

PM Press (2019)

Book Review

This book is a collection of essays about capitalism’s continuing seizure and privatization of the “commons” and growing women’s movements in Africa, Latin America and Asia to resist enclosure and reclaim privatized land.

Federici divides her book into two parts. The Part One (“On the New Enclosures”) essays describe the original 15-17th century enclosure laws that drove my European ancestors off common lands they had farmed communally for more than 1,000 years. This process (which Marx refers to as “primitive accumulation”) laid the groundwork for capitalism in two important ways: 1) it allowed the accumulation of capital (ie land) to finance the industrial revolution and 2) it forced landless peasants into factories.

Part One goes on to explore how the World Bank and IMF continues to expel drive third world peoples from their communal lands, creating the largest mass migration of refugees in history. I was quite surprised to learn that communal land ownership survives intact throughout much of Africa and that women produce 80% of the continent’s food via subsistence farming.

This section also features excellent essays on the role the Chinese government has played in driving their peasant population off their communal lands – and the role of microcredit in inflicting debt on rural populations that were previously immune to the forces of globalization.

In Part Two “On the Commons,” Federici details numerous examples of third world women’s movements that are reclaiming the commons via such strategies as squatting on privatized land, urban gardening (growing crops on privatized land), time banks, savings pools, and programs to collectively undertake shopping, cooking and care of street children.

This section also offers an excellent critique of Marx’s failure to acknowledge the essential role under capitalism of the unpaid work of women and colonized peoples – nor of the degradation of the “commons” known as the environment.

The book’s final essay warns of the seductive nature of Internet technology and role it plays in distracting people from genuine face-to-face interaction that brings about real change.

The Civil War in Libya

The Lust for Libya: How a Nation Was Torn Apart Part 2

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

Part 2 of Lust for Libya links the 2011 “uprisings” in Libya to the Arab Spring uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

It makes no mention of the CIA role in fomenting and arming the rebellion in Libya, along with the more peaceful 2001 Arab Spring “color revolutions.” See The Arab Spring: Made in the USA

I was surprised to learn the 2011 NATO bombing campaign was spearheaded by French president Nicolas Sarkozy (whose 2007 election campaign was financed by Gaddafi) and former UK prime minister David Cameron. It was they who approached the Obama administration as a third partner.

In total NATO bombers embarked on 20,000 sorties and 67,000 total bombings to virtually destroy Libya’s civilian infrastructure. With US intelligence support, rebel fighters captured, tortured and executed Gaddafi as he was fleeing Tripoli. With his demise, Libya became a failed state as it descended into a civil war between rival armed militias.

Libya’s National Oil Company and its central bank continued to operate, and for some bizarre reason the new de facto government (National Transition Council) granted a salary to all past and present militia fighters – a move that clearly fuels the ongoing war.

Libya has held a number of parliamentary elections since 2011, but none has been able to control the militias or effectively rebuild state institutions.

In 2015, the UN created the government of National Accord, which meets in Tripoli, although any government institutions that continue to operate are run by militias. A CIA-linked exile General Khalifa Hafter has created a rival government run by the Libyan National Army and which has seized the oil ports and all oil production.

France, the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all supplying Hafter with weapons, in open violation of a UN arms embargo. Italy backs the Government of National Accord because they control natural gas resources Italy depends on – and, to some extent, the flow of African refugees departing from Libya for Italy.

Part 2 begins at 47 minutes.

Greeks Fight Back Against Austerity and Fascism

Love and Revolution

Directed by Yannis Youlountis (2018)

Film Review

Love and Revolution is about the growing anarchist movement fighting Greece’s deepening austerity cuts (which have cut salaries and pensions in half and ended health care access for a million patients). The film consists mainly of interviews with anarchists over the specific projects they are organizing. The documentary emphatically challenges the recent announcement by the IMF and the European Central Bank that Greek austerity has ended. After years of brutal austerity resulting in thousands of deaths, the Greek government is further than ever from repaying its debt to European bankers.

Among the projects that most impressed me are

  • a social kitchen that regular provides free meals on the street.
  • an anti-eviction movement that has been by occupying and shutting down eviction hearings at the District Court.
  • an ongoing squat that has provided accommodation to more than 6,000 refugees in the last five years.
  • an antifascist campaign that has shut down Golden Dawn* offices in Athens and established Exarcheia, a fascist-free zone that also effectively excludes Greek police.
  • a campaign to block the construction of a new airport in a pristine rural/agricultural area.
  • a YouTube channel dedicated to Greek news from the viewpoint of anti-austerity activists, rather than police and banks.

*See Greek Austerity and the Rise of Fascism

Italy: The Mafia and the Migrants

Italy: The Mafia and the Migrants

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

This documentary concerns Mafia ties to Italy’s privately run immigrant reception centers. In the last four years Italy has admitted 600,000 migrants, who have crossed the Mediterranean by boat from Turkey and North Africa. The European Union pays the Italian government to operate emergency reception centers to provide migrant accommodation, food, clothes, medical services, “processing” (ie assistance in applying for refugee status), language training, employment referral and other integration services.

The Italian government, which pays these centers $35 per day per migrant, makes little effort to monitor them. Many are unsafe and unsanitary and so overcrowded that residents are forced to sleep in kitchens and showers. Likewise many reception center managers have little or no management or social service experience. Even more ominous, many are openly contracting with Mafia-run businesses.

In the eyes of the Italian Mafia, “migrants are worth more than drugs.” Although it’s illegal for any company convicted of Mafia affiliations to receive government contracts, generous kickbacks ensure local officials (and clergy) look the other way. In one reception center, a mob-run catering company routinely charges for 500 more meals than it serves.

A state prosecutor investigating the catering company estimates the mob has already made more than $1 billion of the refugee industry.

Refugees and Anarchists – Greece’s Burgeoning Popular Resistance

Resistance in Athens

Medialien (2016)

Film Review

Resistance in Athens is a short documentary about the ongoing dismemberment of Greece by the Syriza government to satisfy harsh bailout conditions imposed by the IMF and European banks. As brutal austerity measures continue to shrink the Greek economy, unemployment (now at 25%) and hunger continue to increase and more than 200,000 young people have left Greece for other European countries.

Meanwhile a continuing influx of Syrian, Afghan and African refugees across the Mediterranean continues to fuel the resistance movement. Owing to government budget shortfalls and refusal by other EU countries to accept non-European migrants, Greek anarchists and socialists have played a major role in welcoming refugees and meeting their needs for shelter, food and other survival needs.

The documentary focuses on Exarcheia, a growing self-governing anarchist community spanning four decades.

For me, the highlight of the film was the personal interviews –  with Exarcheia members about their work with traumatized refugee children and with refugees who have turned against capitalism due to their brutal treatment by European authorities.

Click on the cc icon in the lower right hand corner for English subtitles.

EU Plans War to Keep Europe White*

Reblogged from Libya360

For more than 500 years, Europeans have invaded and looted the planet, yet their home civilizations are deemed so fragile that they must be insulated against the cultures of the formerly colonized peoples. Having created millions of Muslim and African war refugees, the Europeans now gear up to attack the boats that might bring them to Europe.
20150428-LIBYA-slide-GK7J-superJumbo

By Glen Ford

“The thousands of deaths at sea are crimes of Europe and the United States.”

The United States has been the big, bad leader of the imperial world for so long, we may sometimes forget that most of the evils that beset our world have their origins in Europe, a small corner of the Earth that has for 500 years grown fat off the blood and resources of the rest of the planet. This Europe is a greedy little place, most of whose inhabitants believe they have somehow earned what they have stolen from the world’s darker peoples, and that they are entitled to continue stealing in perpetuity.

In 2011, in league with the United States, European members of NATO launched a totally unprovoked 7-month bombing campaign against Libya, resulting in the murder of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and the empowerment of Islamist jihadists throughout the northern tier of the African continent. Col. Gaddafi had warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia, with vast numbers of people desperately fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea to escape the turmoil. Gaddafi was right, of course. Not only has Libya been reduced to a state of sheer anarchy and terror, but thanks to Europe and the United States, Hell has descended on Syria, and conditions in Somalia have grown even worse. The Europeans and their American cousins are intent on wiping out every vestige of civilization in the Muslim world – all the while spouting the same twisted, racist logic that they have employed for half a millennium: that Muslims and Africans are unsuited to civilization, and must be guided by the white hands of Europe, for their own good.

“Col. Gaddafi warned that the Euro-American aggression would turn Libya into another Somalia.”

The refugee crisis, the thousands of deaths at sea, are crimes of Europe and the United States. The Euro-Americans are just as unquestionably guilty as the arsonist who sets the fire that causes apartment dwellers to jump to their deaths from high windows to escape the flames. Now, the nations of the European Union, all 28 of them, are backing plans to launch air and naval attacks against boats in the ports of Libya and on the high seas, to make sure that the refugees that Europe and America have created do not wind up on European shores.

Read full article at Libya360

The Global Refugee Scandal

Europe or Die

VICE News (2015)

Film Review

According to UNHCR (the UN High Commission for Human Rights), more than 50 million people have been permanently displaced through wars in the Middle East, political persecution, climate change and grinding poverty. Of these, hundreds of thousands face such life threatening conditions at home that they risk death by crossing the Mediterranean in rusty, leaky, overcrowded boats.

Refugees typically take one of four routes in their desperation to reach Europe: illegal entry into one of the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, a short choppy boat trip from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos or across the Avros River into mainland Greece, jumping a wire fence from Greece into Bulgaria or crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Europe or Die is a four part documentary follows some of these migrants on their dangerous voyage and closely examines their treatment by EU countries on their arrival.

This documentary was a real eye opener for me. Given the majority of these refugees are the helpless victims of proxy wars started and funded by the US and wealthy EU countries, their refusal of to adopt consistent and humane immigration policies is clearly a crime against humanity under international law.

Part I: For most sub-Saharan refugees seeking illegal entry to Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves on the Moroccan coast, the best option is to jump three high razor wire topped fences. Under EU law, the first fence demarcates the Spanish border. Refugees who make it past the first fence (it’s really a kind of game) are home free and must be given the option of moving to mainland Spain. They’re also entitled to legal assistance and an interpreter to help them apply for asylum.

The most common is for thousands to storm the fence simultaneously and overwhelming the border guards. Typically two out of 1,000 will get through. It’s illegal, under EU law, for Spanish police to forcibly return them. However “pushbacks,” as they are called are common. As is shooting their hands and feet to make it harder to climb the fence. This is also against the rules.

Part 2: A second common route for migrants is to take the “death boat” from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos or across the Avros River to mainland Greece. Refugees can pay smugglers several thousand dollars to cram them into shabby, overcrowded boats that frequently capsize.

Greece is experiencing a five-fold increase in illegal migration as a direct result of the civil war in Syria. Recently they have experienced a big influx of Iraqi refugees (mainly Yazidis*) with the rise of ISIS. As part of the game, the EU has another law, called the Dublin rule, that political refugees become the responsibility of the country where they are first picked up, irregardless of the country’s ability to provide jobs or social services.

Part 3: A third route is to cross the razor wife fence separating Turkey from Bulgaria, the poorest country in the EU. Bulgaria keeps political refugees in unheated tents without access to clean water. Once they are granted asylum they are forced to leave the camp and end up homeless on the streets.

Part 4: The final, most common method of reaching Europe is to cross from Libya to the Italian Island of Lampedusa. Up until a few months ago, the Italian Navy operated the only search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean. Called Mare Nostrum, it was made up of 900 personnel and 26 naval vessels – at a cost of $9 million euros a month.

In 2013, Mare Nostrum saved 150,000 migrants from boats that had capsized. Owing to the refusal of the EU to support this fantastically expensive program, it had to be cancelled in 2014.

It’s been replaced by Triton, an air surveillance program that requests nearby merchant vessels (if there are any) to rescue migrants in leaky votes.

In 2014, 170,000 migrants made it safely to Italy and 3,000 drowned.


*Yazidis are a Kurdish ethnic group ISIS attempted to exterminate in August 2014.

Israel’s New Ethnic Purity Laws

 

sudan refugees

 

60,000 African Refugees and 70,000 Bedouin Affected

Israel‘s obsession with Jewish ethnic purity has led to the enactment of open ethnic cleansing by the current Netanyahu government.

Aside from Israel’s genocidal policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, new legislation affects 60,000 African refugees and 70,000 Bedouin living within Israel proper. The latter are, by law, Israeli citizens and many have served in the Israeli Defense Force.

Officials in the Netanyahu government justify their racial purity laws as essential to prevent “demographic” problems.

Ensuring that Israel remains both a Jewish state and a democracy requires that non-Jewish populations must be strictly controlled. Allowing non-Jewish Israelites, either singly or jointly, to acquire a sizable voting block would pose a major threat to maintaining Judaism as the official state religion.

In 1948, this resulted in nearly a million Palestinians being driven from their homes and farms by force, to take up residence in refugee camps in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Following the 1967 war, Israel seized the areas of Gaza (in Egypt) and the West Bank (in Jordan) that housed the Palestinian refugee camps.

Since then, they have made no secret of their intention to drive the Palestinians from these areas, as well, and repopulate them with Jewish settlers.

Africans Called Cancer on Jewish State

Receiving less attention are Netanyahu’s brutal policies towards 60,000 African refugees, who fled ethnic cleansing in Eritrea and Sudan to resettle in Israel. As journalist David Sheen describes in Journalists Blistering Indictment, leaders in Netanyahu’s government describe them as a “cancer” on the Jewish state.

It has become official government policy to deny them work permits and health care, and a state sponsored rabbi group has called on landlords not to rent to Africans. In 2012, the Netanyahu government amended the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law. The original law was intended to bar Palestinians from returning to family property Israel confiscated in 1948. The new amendment allowed the Israeli government to criminalize and detain African refugees for up to three years prior to deporting them.

Knesset Circumvents Israeli Supreme Court

Last year, Israel’s supreme court unanimously struck down the amendment. Under international law, it’s illegal for any country’ to deport asylum seekers back to countries where they will experience persecution. The Knesset responded by passing a new law ordering the indefinite imprisonment and the detainment of any foreign person caught trying to cross into Israel.

Under the new legislation, hundreds of African refugees are required to live in the “open” Holot detention center in the Negev Desert. Refugees are permitted to leave the detention center briefly during daytime hours. However they must return three times a day for roll call and must sleep there at night. Human rights groups have also appealed the new law to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, as shown in the video below, the government is organizing state sponsored protests in which Israel’s Jewish citizens are encouraged to trash African refugees’ homes and assault them. If Israel can’t legally deport them, they hope they will leave voluntarily if the government makes their lives as miserable as possible.

Ethnically Cleansing 70,000 Bedouin

Israel’s ethnic purity policies aren’t limited to Palestinians and Africans. Israel is also determined to displace 70,000 Bedouins through the Begin-Prawer law enacted in 2013.

If fully implemented, the Prawer-Begin Plan will result in the destruction of 35 “unrecognized” Arab Bedouin villages, the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the dispossession of their historical lands in the Naqab.

Palestine Applies to join International Criminal Court

Genocide and ethnic cleansing are crimes against humanity under international law. Serbian and African leaders suspected of ethnic cleansing have faced prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

At the beginning of April, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN announced that the Palestinian Authority had sought membership in the ICC and 12 other UN conventions, due to continuing Israeli obstruction in current peace talks. When the UN General Assembly recognized a state of Palestine in October 2012, Palestinians gained the right to seek membership in UN institutions and treaty bodies and possibly take their complaints over Israeli settlement-building on occupied land (also illegal under international law) to the ICC.

On April 12, the UN announced that the state of Palestine had been admitted to the 13 conventions as of July 2, including membership in the ICC and the convention against genocide.

Photo credit: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection via photopin cc

Originally published in Veterans Today

Why Are We Sending Vets to Costa Rica (and Canada and Mexico)?

 drug addict

End the US Ban on Ibogaine

The psychedelic drug ibogaine is used to treat drug addiction and alcoholism in more than 190 countries, including Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Russia, China and Ukraine. Sixty years of research has demonstrated ibogaine’s effectiveness in opiate, cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine and alcohol dependency, as well as treatment resistant post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet owing to the ludicrous and ineffectual “War on Drugs,” ibogaine remains illegal in the US.

It’s an issue of special relevance to veterans, who suffer a high rate of combat-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction disorders. Twenty percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans develop PTSD or depression, with 22 a day, on average, committing suicide. Veterans wounded in Middle East conflicts have a 25-35% chance of becoming addicted to prescription opiates.

Conventional treatment for these disorders is associated with a high failure rate, translating into long term disability and suffering for many vets. International peer reviewed research shows that addicts treated with ibogaine have lower relapse rates than those receiving conventional treatment. Yet thanks to the federal government’s absolute ban on so-called “hallucinogenic” drugs, veterans wanting help for treatment resistant addiction disorders and PTSD must seek out private igobaine clinics in Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica.

Ibogaine Discovered in 1962

Researcher Thomas Kingsley Brown summarizes ibogaine’s history in “Ibogaine in the Treatment of Substance Dependence” in 2013, 6, 2-16 Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 2013, 6, 2-16

Extracted for the West African iboga plant, ibogaine’s benefit in opiate addiction was first discovered in 1962 by a heroin addict named Howard Lotsof. Lotsoft was amazed that it totally blocked any symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Like other addicts who have taken it, he experienced no hallucinations. He has described the effect, which lasted approximately 36 hours, as a “waking dream.”

As Brown elaborates in his paper, it’s common for addicts who take ibogaine to experience a mind expanding panoramic review of their life. They describe being flooded with past memories of traumatic or highly emotional experiences, important personal relationships and bad decisions and choices. In Lotsoff’s case, he gained the understanding that his addiction was fear and anxiety-driven and that he could free himself of these feelings.

Lotsof’s Campaign to Legalize Ibogaine

Ibogaine and other psychedelic drugs were still legal in the US in 1962. In the late sixties, it became illegal, along with LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and other hallucinogens. Determined to share his discovery with other addicts, Lotsoff spent years lobbying researchers, public officials, and pharmaceutical companies to study ibogaine’s potential as an addiction interrupter. He got nowhere. Big Pharma has more or less total control over new drug research, and a “natural” substance administered as a single dose has limited profit potential.

In 1986, Lotsof himself patented ibogaine himself for heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, alcohol, nicotine, and polysubstance abuse. After forming the private company NDA International, he began working with scientists overseas in setting up both animal and human studies. In the early nineties the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) developed Phase I and II clinical trial protocols for ibogaine. They cancelled the project in 1995 because the Clinton administration felt it was too controversial.

How Ibogaine Works

Studies in rodents reveal that repeated drug and alcohol administration causes changes in gene expression in the ventral tegmental area of the brain. Ibogaine reverses this by increasing Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF) activity.

As Brown and other researchers point out, the drug isn’t a “cure” for addiction. However by eliminating or substantially decreasing withdrawal symptoms, it creates a clear “window of opportunity,” allowing the addict to cognitively choose to take back control of their life.

Ibogaine doesn’t address the behavioral component of addiction. As in mainstream recovery programs, an addict is less likely to relapse if they’re prepared to substitute new positive behaviors for the addictive behaviors. Most need support from aftercare programs, family and friends to achieve this.

Medical Supervision Required

Thomas’s review stresses that ibogaine should only be used under close medical supervision, owing to potentially serious (in some cases lethal) side effects. He also reminds us that these health risks must be weighed against the very real health consequences of chronic addiction (e.g. liver disease, cardiovascular disease, traumatic injury, overdose, malnutrition). The death rate associated with methadone and buprenorphine, the current treatments of choice for heroin addiction, is even higher. In 2005/2006, the annual death rate from methadone poisoning was double that from heroin-related poisoning. In New Zealand, the growing fatality rate from methadone poisoning was part of the rationale for legalizing ibogaine in 2009.

Avoiding Medical Complications with Ibogaine

After decades of international use, the potential medical complications of taking ibogaine are well known, as are the contraindications against taking it. The most common exclusion criteria are pre-existing heart disease, pre-existing bleeding problems or chronic blood clots. No patient should take ibogaine without an electrocardiogram (EKG) to rule out heart problems. Moreover a doctor or nurse (preferably specialized in emergency medicine or cardiology) needs to be present to monitor the patient during the session.

All patients entering an ibogaine treatment center need to undergo a complete medical and psychological screening. If they’re taking drugs that interact adversely with ibogaine, staff at the treatment center need to assist them in safely tapering and discontinuing. Likewise alcoholics need to undergo medical detox prior to taking igobaine.

Our Public Obligation to Veterans

Despite the abundance of excellent US referral sites (www.iceers.org and http://www.myeboga.org/providers.html are the best), it seems terribly wrong to expect veterans with combat related PTSD and addiction disorders to go to Canada or Mexico for help. Even with the 25% discount Ibogalife in Costa Rica offers vets with PTSD, all these conditions have dire financial consequences. Private treatment simple isn’t an option for the vast majority of vets and non-vets struggling with them.

Surely the American public has both a moral and legal obligation to offer effective treatment to veterans with combat related conditions. Yet according to the Department of Veterans Affairs website, not a single VA program or hospital is undertaking ibogaine research. The only free ibogaine studies I could find were in New Zealand (for addiction disorders) and the  Bahamas (for US vets with diagnosed PTSD).

Besides being immoral and illegal, it also makes no sense to make taxpayers fund ineffective methadone and buprenorphine maintenance programs – involving years of daily administration of an equally addictive drug – when other countries are having proven success with a safer, less expensive and more effective treatment option. At the very minimum, the VA should be funding ibogaine research through VA hospitals.

This is an absolute disgrace. Obama and Congress need to hear from vets and their families and veterans advocacy groups, as well as taxpayers. In other words, all of us.

The following 2006 video describes the experience of a lieutenant general and Green Beret who underwent treatment with ibogaine. He had become addicted to prescription opiates following a combat-related injury.

photo credit: ceslava.com via photopin cc

Originally published in Veterans Today