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Indybay Feature
The Coming Revolt - and the peaceful solidarity for a Just World Society
by Kanoh Nishizawa
Tuesday Apr 14th, 2020 12:03 PM
As capitalism gets exposed for its savagery, there will be tumult, and revolt of the oppressed. In this new environment, we should express peaceful solidarity if we want a chance at a Just World Society.
COVID-19 only just began exposing the savagery of the for-profit-of-0.1% world-system. As it unravels, and if history is to be taken as a guide, and since no change in power relations occurred in a long while, we can safely predict some outcomes.

The rich will fare much better than the poor. True for both, inside and among countries. Western healthcare is and will continue to be exposed as inadequate in best, overwhelmed in worst cases. Economies of the West will be hit very hard, with the weakest bearing the biggest brunt. Politicians will bail themselves out (since most are economic elites) as well as their buddies from the wealthy category by corporate and stock market rescues. Most of which will be outright gifts paid for by the public. Everyone else will get no or inadequate help. Corporations will show how little they care for worker well-being.

In the global South, copy and paste, except with effects amplified by orders of magnitude. Poorer countries who were already stretched as thin as possible by profiteering of the 0.1%; their social protections abysmal, economies shaped so they would benefit international corporations and local political and economic elites - the managers of the 0.1%. All the while producing mass of poverty and insecurity. The one measure which we so far know works for sure is social distancing. It will be impossible to institute in states where populations have no savings, won’t get public funds to help make ends meet, will, therefore have to work, depend on crowded means of transportation, as well as crowded places to make a living. That means even if everyone gets locked in by some draconian measure, they’ll literally starve. The definition of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Can’t work, can’t stay in. On the level of countries, demand for raw materials and commodities the South trades with the rest of the world collapsed, minimizing the already miserly income needed to fight the pandemic. Rich countries won’t even help each other, as the EU shows, much less their subordinates. Even weeks of lockdown will be catastrophic, though it is probable the crisis will last into 2021.

There will be revolt. Protests, strikes, blockades, even riots.

How do we try to navigate through the tumult?

Those of us from the 99% should keep in mind that we are a global category, no matter the form of oppression or location on the map. Let’s just take a cue from the experts who study the folks that run and profit from the existing world-system. Those whose greed we need to tame. They call them the Transnational Capitalist Class. The term itself tells us enough about the scope of their operations, and implies the scope and scale of masses they exploit. The lesson is clear - we, their victims, are an international category, and must act in unison if we’re to make meaningful changes.

From the standpoint of creating a Just World Society, it was always clear that we first needed to stop the status quo. Throughout history, every time people managed to radically change systems was when enough of them stopped consenting to the way things are, usually by going out in the streets (not the only way to withdraw consent, as the stay-at-home regime shows). That a system is nothing more but what we choose to do each day can’t be depicted any better than by looking around at the time of COVID-19 imposed lockdowns. Our consent to keep performing the miserable daily ritual (often called a job) is what maintains the system which oppresses us. Withdraw consent in large enough numbers, and the game is up. It is that simple. But simple doesn’t mean easy. Masters are well aware of the danger of the rest recognizing they belong to the same group, which is a single thought away from understanding their collective power to change things. If understood, potentially catastrophic fact which therefore must be obscured via good education, TV programs, news, the press, church pulpits etc. Occasionally, however, reality reaches a crisis point where things become unbearable, meaningless distractions such as TV, sports performances, and fashion shows unwatchable, and status quo indefensible. Now is such a time. Change is in the offing. But of what kind?

As far as the direction of the coming change, nothing is settled, though history (as well as some early signs) tells us four options are in contention.

Option 1: States will acquire new powers under the guise of providing security. The revolt will be pronounced anti-societal, led by “bad citizens”, “foreign agents”, even “terrorists”- people struggling to survive. Ideologues will turn to nationalism, xenophobia, state sponsored violence. A hard turn to the right is a real danger. Look at Hungary.

Option 2: Using milder, but similar tactics from option 1, status quo more-less gets preserved, states usurp additional powers. Little changes. In that case we will still continue on the unsustainable path of environmental destruction, and toleration of the nuclear holocaust. The only question is, which will arrive first.

Option 3: Some mix of 1 and 2.

Option 4: International solidarity movement refuses consent to options 1-3 and pushes for a Just World Society in which economic and political power are democratized.

How do we practically get there?

If, we’re to, once again, heed the teachings of history, unifying 99% is the only way to democratize power, and thus make meaningful, lasting changes that are to result in a Just World Society. To get there we must show solidarity with all varieties of struggle for justice about to pop up around the globe. Through that process we will awaken more and more folks to the fact that 99% is one, world-wide category, withdrawing consent simple, and a Just World Society possible. Presenting an alternative to capitalists’ solutions in times of crisis is imperative.

When the poor protest in Nigeria, or peasants in Chad, or workers in South Africa, it is for the same reason people revolt in Chile, or Brazil, or why American workers are striking, and the marginalized marching. Same is true anyplace where race for profit destroyed lives. When that happens, and in the spirit of solidarity, 99% should peacefully withdraw consent where ever we happen to be at that moment. Do this for long enough and capitalism is done. As we can see from exhibit A, the virus ignited lockdown.

If Chile walks out in the streets, Americans should go to their roofs, balconies, yards, and bang pots and pans in support, and perhaps decide not to go to work on Mondays out of solidarity. If American workers don’t work on Mondays, Australians can skip Tuesday, Europeans Wednesday. Then increase duration to two days a week… Or whatever other creative way to withdraw consent and express solidarity crosses mind. Creativity is not in short supply. Denominations like environmentalists, labor, minorities, the poor, what nation we’re from, are meaningless.

With what goal in mind? What is a Just World Society?

It is only half the battle to know what we don’t want, we must also know what is it we do want. What does it mean that the Just World Society should have democratized political and economic power? Details would, of course, depend on the constituents, though some first steps and general principles can be outlined: Weakening concentrations of power, such as corporations and federal governments, while empowering workers, stakeholders, city, town, and even neighborhood councils. Democracy should be measured by how many times one’s voice is being heard, and how much weight it carries. A truer democracy. By that standard, tossing one’s voice in the pool of 330 million every 4 years, for a candidate approved by the elites, as is the case in the United States, is only farther from true democracy than no vote at all. Corporations, on the other hand, are simply dictatorships. Power should flow in the opposite direction, from the neighborhoods up to the federal level. Companies should be directed by the workers and other stakeholders (customers, workers, the community, etc.). Category of professional politicians should be dispelled with, and only short-term, recallable, temporary representatives allowed, and only when such function is absolutely necessary, as for bodies like the United Nations, for example. Corporations be democratized. Now that the public is bailing them out is a good opportunity. Federal assistance should be attached to worker and stakeholder ownership and mandatory presence on the board of directors. The economic arena cannot be divorced from the political, it must, therefore, also be based on the democratic principle of one stakeholder, one vote
.
A very good set of starting ideas in this direction has, for example, been spelled out by a group of experts working on the Green Stimulus and in The Next System Project.

The question is as old as social layering based on material possessions, though stakes on how it’s to be answered have never been higher: Will the 99% withdraw consent to the madness of the status quo and prevent the collapse of civilization? We’ll know soon.
Bad news – it’ll be difficult. Good news – what happens next is fully up to us.


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