As we reflect on the past year, we look back at five crucial struggles we covered on our Wire service. From nascent movements to established political projects, from bitter defeats to great triumphs, these struggles have taught us invaluable lessons, broadened our political horizons and rekindled our hopes for a new world.
Peasants against neoliberalism
In 2020, India’s parliament, led by far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), introduced a series of bills aimed at privatizing India’s agricultural sector and dismantling long-standing government protections. date on behalf of so many -called market efficiency. Collectively, these “farm bills” were an all-out attack on the livelihoods of Indian farmers in the service of foreign capital and domestic agribusiness oligarchs.
In response, organized Indian farmers took to the streets in unprecedented numbers. It was an organized expression of democracy and disruption – nationwide strikes, road and rail blockades, boycotts and barricades of target businesses and, to back it all up, a collective self-help system for those who put their lives in danger. Indian women have played an indispensable role in resisting the forces of capitalism and patriarchy. Farmers and activists around the world, inspired by the radical determination of their comrades in India, expressed their solidarity.
The struggle lasted over a year and the state killed some 700 farmers in the process. But the move proved overwhelming. In December, the Farm Bills were repealed.
However, the fight is far from over. Indian farmers are determined to build on their victory and have made additional demands on the government. They face new threats as the instruments of imperialism threaten to undermine their victory. This year we celebrate the farmers of India. They demonstrated that the masses – organized, mobilized and ready to engage in radical disruptive action – have the power to shape their own destiny.
Palestinians against settler colonialism
For Palestinians, the “Nakba” – which translates to “catastrophe” and refers to the initial ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from towns, villages and cities in 1948 – is not a story of the past, but an ongoing and brutal colonization.
In April 2021, for example, the Israeli government attempted to forcibly evict some 2,000 Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. When locals resisted with a powerful campaign to #SaveSheikhJarrah, the Israeli state responded with brutality, attacking the Palestinian people in the streets and in their places of worship.
A few days later, the Israeli government launched a vicious military assault on Gaza, in which at least 260 Palestinians lost their lives. In response, the Progressive International urged progressive forces around the world to fight for an end to the Nakba, to boycott the apartheid regime – a demand also endorsed by more than 700 leaders of the global South – and to divest itself of its war machine through an internationalist anti-militarist organization.
Later in June, when the new Bennett-Lapid government took office in Israel, world leaders and the mainstream press celebrated the end of the Netanyahu era. Unsurprisingly, however, the administration did not just press on, but redoubled its efforts in suppressing the Palestinian people. In October, he called a number of Palestinian human rights groups, including Al-Haq and Defense for Children International – Palestine, “terrorist institutions”.
But Palestinian civil society refuses to be silent. As Shahd Qaddoura of Al-Haq, the oldest Palestinian human rights organization, wrote: “Until Palestine is free and we can finally enjoy our right to self-determination , our voice of justice will remain strong.”
Gig Workers Against Exploitation
Around the world, digital technology is creating new ways to empower workers, plunging them into ever more precarious working conditions. Nowhere is this “gigification” clearer than for app-based deliverers. During the pandemic, delivery work was an “essential service” protecting people from exposure to the virus – but it was the major platforms that reaped the benefits of this essential work. It’s starting to change. A growing movement of delivery workers around the world – from Shanghai to Tbilisi, from Mexico City to Taiwan – are fighting to end exploitation, for the right to unionize and to challenge the cold grip of algorithmic control in their lives.
80,000 food delivery workers in Taiwan, for example, protested opaque new wage calculations by Uber Eats and Foodpanda. They call for a national union to organize and fight exploitative business models in the so-called gig economy. In Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, by contrast, delivery workers are classified as “independent contractors” and as such face a complicated process to organize legal strikes. But instead of giving up, the drivers turned their status into a virtue: they collectively stopped work by simply disabling the app, which wreaked havoc on the company and demonstrated the self-organizing potential of delivery drivers.
Latin America against neo-fascism
The left is on the rise in Latin America. From Bolivia to Peru, from Chile to Honduras, the people are fighting to reclaim democracy against the forces of right-wing nationalism at home and imperial intervention from abroad.
Following the triumphant mobilization against the foreign-backed right-wing coup that overthrew the movement towards socialism in 2019, the people of Bolivia have reclaimed their democracy and demanded justice for the victims of the coup regime. State.
In Peru, former schoolteacher and trade union leader Pedro Castillo defeated an opponent who threatened to return the country to the darkest days of the fascist Fujimori dictatorship.
In Honduras, the election of Xiomara Castro has revived hopes that the country can finally escape the shadow of the 2009 US-backed coup.
The Venezuelan people continued to defend the victories of the Bolivarian process against suffocating sanctions and other imperial regime change efforts, including the plundering of their gold reserves by the British legal system.
And to close the year, Gabriel Boric, member of Progressive International, triumphed over Pinochetista José Antonio Kast, paving the way for the radical transformation of the Chilean Constitution initiated by the “social explosion” of last year.
Deep challenges remain. A devastating electoral defeat in Ecuador was the exception to the regional trend. In Colombia, the mass resistance led by indigenous and peasants was violently repressed by the Duque government supported by Washington and London. And even the victories represent the beginning, not the end, of a long historical process of claiming sovereignty across Latin America.
After a year of big wins and losses, in 2022 we look to Colombia, Brazil and beyond.
People Against Dispossession
The struggle for decolonization against imperialism is perhaps the most defining struggle of our time. Where colonialism and capitalism violently converted the common land of the many into the private property of the few, decolonization has long sought to reclaim that land for the benefit of the people to whom it rightfully belongs.
It is a struggle for sovereignty, for land, for food and against the destruction of the environment. And, despite the attempts of the imperialists to relegate colonial history to the past, the struggle for decolonization continues today throughout the world.
In Kenya, the Wakasighau, a people uprooted from their native region of Kasighau and exiled by the British at the start of the First World War, are still fighting for the restitution of their lands.
For residents of the Indonesian village of Pakel, the fight against land grabbing and environmental destruction has been going on for more than 100 years – first against the Dutch colonial government and then against Indonesia’s post-independence rulers.
On the Philippine island of Panay, the indigenous Tumandok people are engaged in a decades-long struggle against dam construction projects.
In India, the tribal people of the Hasdeo forest have embarked on a historic march to the state capital to save their lands and livelihoods from a mining project by Indian multinational group Adani.
In Australia, the Wangan and Jagalingou Aboriginal Nation are waging a determined struggle to stop an environmentally and culturally destructive coal mining project.
In Brazil, indigenous peoples have occupied the capital Brasília to resist government land grabbing and ecologically destructive megaprojects, and to fight for their territories and the right to life. And the country’s Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) – one of the largest social movements in Latin America with around 1.5 million members – is fighting the eviction of 450 families living in the Marielle Vive camp. in Valinhos, where they have transformed abandoned land into a thriving community.
In Colombia, the guard leaders of the peasant, cimarrona and indigenous communities are organizing their members around the defense of their respective territories and spaces against the brutal repression of the Duque government.
Each of these struggles is part of a global war for the lands, rights and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples against the global forces of colonization and the mechanisms of primitive accumulation.
This article was first published by Progressive International.