In Part 3, using the example of the repression of “far off” Western Sahara’s right to self-determination, I am going to discuss the most simple and yet most important reason why anti-capitalist democratic internationalism is needed: No Justice, No Peace. The long history of U.S. involvement, including the advocacy of Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State and continuing payments from a plundering Moroccan state enterprise to the Clinton Foundation, is a silent partner in a continuing humanitarian tragedy. This tragedy, virtually unknown to U.S. citizens, not only is ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings but also undermining international peace. Added features are the diminution of the reputation of the U.S. before the rest of the world, the promotion of the profligate use of irreplaceable natural resources, and the associated reduction of incentives for recycling regional phosphate supplies, which would in the long run enhance food security. And, I almost forgot, big bucks for transnational companies.
In case you missed the first two parts of this series:
In Part 1 of this series for the Anti-Capitalist Meetup group at Daily Kos, I opined that the starting point for justice is for human beings everywhere to know their rights as human beings:
Laws are to be in the service of justice, with justice being in the service of love. When we begin to think deeply about our own rights–not those written up in constitutions given to us by the powerful but those that should be written in our hearts because they can be logically derived by our minds and certainly encompassing the meeting of our basic human needs–we begin to recognize how irrational it is to think that these rights should or even can stop at national boundaries.
In Part 2, I summarized “The Political-Economic Basis For Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism,” citing Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Marx. Since I wrote Part 2, the prospect has manifested of President Obama holding hands with Republicans in pushing through fast-track authority for new “trade” deals. The targets of these actions, the workers and otherwise vulnerable of the world, have not given informed consent. They cannot even see the drafts much less be a part of the negotiations. Thus, a complex dialectic is taking place in which the U.S. government, with a pretense of helping U.S. workers, relying on President Obama’s domestic reputation for caring about the disenfranchised, fully supports internationalism–but of the neoliberal anti-democratic variety, on behalf of transnational capital and the upper mercenary class.
Whether the president in the White House were the nominee of the thoroughly corrupted Republican Party or the slightly less corrupted Democratic Party, humanity needs a global anti-capitalist and deeply democratic mass movement:
I suggest that there are two principal political-economic reasons why truly compassionate USians must support anti-capitalist democratic internationalism. One is a “prophylactic” reason and the other is a “stimulative” reason. Both are interrelated, and the distinctions I draw are not absolute but illustrative.
The first/prophylactic reason is that, as the desperation of Central American children reflects: the U.S. is not isolated unto itself, as the border zeitgeist would indicate, but is instead the senior partner of global capitalist imperialism, creating destruction and exploitation of people and the environment all around the world.
The second/stimulative reason is that the workers of the U.S. themselves need socialism and are unlikely to get what they need from domestic, plutocrat-controlled political “democracy” alone, which will require outside stimulus. And, circling back to the first reason, if the U.S. does not itself become socialistic, it is unlikely that the cancer of capitalism will cease expanding and re-expanding around the planet until no more profits are to be made and the planet has been thoroughly cooked. Hence, outside stimulation of the U.S. to become socialistic is necessary both for the good of the U.S. and for the good of the rest of the planet, if one cares about it.
For Part 3, because it’s summer, and a Holiday weekend in the U.S. no less, I will mostly ask you to watch some short highly accessible videos about Western Sahara. Then, I will briefly quote from a technical paper I did a couple of years ago giving, among other things, my take on the importance of Western Sahara to global food security. After that, I will, using nonpartisan sources, point out the ugly money ties of the Kingdom of Morocco to the Clinton Foundation. Those ties are merely the tip of a discouraging bipartisan “iceberg in the desert” to make permanent the Kingdom of Morocco’s plundering of Western Sahara.
I want the Clintons to change their ways and do the right thing, which is within their power. Therefore, I am calling them out for their apparently legal but nonetheless reprehensible conduct. If you would like to blame me for “politicizing” this topic, perhaps you should blame (1) reality; and (2) the example of Pope Francis in speaking truth to the world’s comfortable.
We the people, the too often passive objects of neoliberalism, must become the active deeply democratic subjects forcing there to be real “liberty and justice for all.” Whether the issue is oil, gas, phosphate ore, or some other production input, to use the wonderfully insightful words of Michael Harrington (pp. 60-61, Ch. 3, The Twilight of Capitalism, Simon and Schuster, 1976), “the pervasive light, the special atmosphere” should be understood. This necessitates a holistic rather than deterministic critique:
The fundamental Marxian concept of society is not that of an economic base determining a political and cultural superstructure, even though Marx sometimes carelessly implied that it was, as in the 1859 Forward. It is rather the image of an organic whole filled with internal movement, of a “rich totality of many determinations and relationships.”
So, for example, Marx conceives of capitalism as a system in which the economic, political and social interact reciprocally upon one another. The relationships arising out of production are dominant in the very simple sense that they are the primordial precondition of the life of the species and in the complex sense that they provide a society with its pervasive lighting, its special atmosphere. These production relationships are not economic in the technological or material meaning of the term; they are, rather, human relationships which have turned into things. Moreover, the production relationships do not infuse every aspect of cultural and political life with a single, underlying content. They bathe the superstructure in that pervasive light, they touch and color the totality, but that leaves room for relative autonomies. Art, science and politics all have their own rhythms.
All this is incalculably distant from the vulgar mechanistic notion that Marxism is a universal deterministic key to the linear evolution of human society. More to the point, it provides a first step toward methodology that can help in the understanding of the late twentieth century.
Although the late twentieth century has come and gone, the powerful and their mercenaries ignore Harrington’s advice to the peril of the world’s workers, the poor, and the disenfranchised. They offer us the dream to become powerful or at least mercenaries ourselves. These dreams really do come true–for some. However, we should not wonder why there is blowback from those who are an afterthought in the international economic equations.
Finally, I will contrast the immoral framework of global real politic with words from Pope Francis’s recent encyclical and his earlier Evangelii Gaudium. Which side are we on? Francis wants to know.
With respect to Western Sahara, the ironic justification for immoral geopolitical bullying is that the very persons being unjustly treated for now generations are being increasingly tempted to try their hand at “terrorism” against “U.S. interests” in North Africa. Injustice that started during the Cold War was bathed in the pervasive light of the appropriation plans of the powerful for highly desired resources. Now that the Cold War is over, this injustice has been converted into a new seeming geopolitical necessity, the endless “war on terror.” This should suffice to show that while we the people need to provide liberty and justice immediately in Western Sahara and elsewhere around the world, our elected officials, even some of those we believe are “the good ones,” may do just the opposite, ostensibly on our behalf but in practice on behalf of the needs of the neoliberal system for cheap inputs and other advantages.
This corrupt and unsustainable system needs to be thrown out as soon as possible, not perpetuated and expanded. It needs to be replaced with a more perfect system, one that builds not global neoliberalism but global deep democracy, with respect for the economic, social, and cultural rights, as well as for the political rights, of all. While this sounds unrealistic, it is actually the only global future worth fighting for, and one perfectly in keeping with “realistic dreamers” like Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. I will write about how this change actually can occur, poco a poco, in an upcoming Part 4.
Please watch one or more these videos for the history and current political setting:
Please watch this video for an example of Western Sahara culture (“Sahrawi wedding”):
While these videos are helpful, they do not describe the political-economic context in detail. I have examined these issues as part of a broader look at global food security in association with soil science. As I pointed out in my political coming-of-age pamphlet (which can be downloaded at this webpage), my desire to look at soil science issues holistically led me to write “A Socialized Technical Report on Nutrient Scarcity and Soil,” which in turn led to me write the rest of the pamphlet. Here are some facts:
Another key aspect of the global phosphate situation is that large phosphate deposits in Western Sahara are under the control of an occupying power, Morocco (Cordell et al.; Arief), which itself has large phosphate deposits, and that both are in a highly turbulent part of the world. The Moroccan-controlled deposits dwarf those of any other nation or region (van Horn et al.). Polisario Front, the Sahrawi national liberation movement, from its exile in Algeria claims Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). Events related to Polisario Front, Arab Spring, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or other movements may unfold to transform Morocco or Western Sahara and their already fluid trade relationships. Close military and other ties of the U.S. to Morocco may come under closer scrutiny as times goes on (Arief).
Around the world, countries large and small may eventually be forced to align or not align with phosphate ore occupier or occupied. Cuba ironically for now shares with the U.S. the good fortune of having some significant domestic phosphate ore reserves (USGS). South America is sorting out its phosphate position, but generally will need to be a major phosphate importer from Morocco (Prado et al.).
Already countries like Venezuela express skepticism about growing U.S. ties with Spain’s Canary Islands (Seed), lying in the Atlantic Ocean next to Western Sahara. The Canary Islands are a heavy user of phosphate in their Andisols (Negrín), and home to the Gando air base, U.S. ties to which some critics eye with suspicion (Seed). “Although the United States has one of the world’s largest phosphate rock reserves, the nation will see a significant drop in production in 25 years when it is estimated that production will peak at its key mines in Florida” (Gilbert). Until these domestic reserves peak and possibly run out, the U.S. may not prepare in the manner Europe is doing.
Morality and U.S. Interests in Western Sahara
Just days ago, thousands of Danish festivalgoers took part in an exercise to demonstrate how P from pee can be recycled to make barley to make beer. Less focused on keeping the earth in a sustainable balance much less morality, transnational fertilizer companies, including the major players in North America, are buying a large portion of the plundered Western Sahara phosphate ore.
The U.S. has been cozying up to Morocco’s dictators its entire history, in part because of the pivotal location of Morocco at the mouth of the Mediterranean. While this relationship precedes by almost two centuries the Western Sahara issue, the U.S. meddling on that issue has been the worst of neocolonial imperialism.
The fact that it has gone on in plain sight by the great bastion of “freedom” and “democracy,” and under the guise of the decolonization of Africa no less, merely makes one all the more nauseous. Students of Africa have been pointing out the immorality of the situation and the prominent U.S. role, and been duly ignored. It is sad but true that even a dying Fascist dictator got his marching orders on Western Sahara from the White House:
On November 6, 1975, when the leader of Spain, Francisco Franco, lay seriously ill, King Hassan II organized the so-called Green March and invaded Western Sahara with three hundred and fifty thousand unarmed Moroccan volunteers waving copies of the Koran. As the Green March was carried out, the Ford administration persuaded Spain, which was wrestling with an impending succession crisis, not to risk any conflict with Morocco over Western Sahara.
The U.S. wanted Morocco to take over Western Sahara because it would be a pliable manager thief on the international phosphate market. Too bad about the people of Western Sahara and their right to self-determination. They were and are in the way.
What was that a discarded African American minister said about God Damn America? And great masses of the world say “Amen.”
Tokens from the Clinton Foundation will not change that global state of affairs (only a rejection of global neoliberalism and substitution of global democratic socialism will do that). And how are these tokens paid for? In the case of Western Sahara, by blood money from blood phosphate on stolen property with the theft done in plain sight with the protection of the U.S. This is not a matter of a Republican/NYT media conspiracy to sink the Hillary Clinton campaign but a desire of this democratic socialist for liberty and justice for all. And it is not limited to a particular party in Congress.
Over much resistance, a bipartisan Western Sahara Caucus in Congress was restarted just last month. While the corporate media has picked up on the issue, so has the progressive religious media, and do not think that Pope Francis will not notice.
As noted in National Catholic Reporter:
As an attorney well-versed in international affairs, Clinton is no doubt aware of the legal and moral issues regarding the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara and the seeming impropriety of her foundation accepting money from a government-owned company illegally exploiting the natural resources of a non-self-governing territory.
That she is willing to do so anyway raises some troubling questions.
As quoted in a recent Daily Kos diary, Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI’ has this to say about willful blindness:
49. It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. At times this attitude exists side by side with a “green” rhetoric. Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
I previously have discussed at great length Francis’s other major writing on social justice, EVANGELII GAUDIUM, where he similarly recognized the link between peace and justice:
•In the section on “THE COMMON GOOD AND PEACE IN SOCIETY,” [217-237] Pope Francis also refused to endorse a peace obtained through repression of human needs:
218. Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others. Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority. The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened, a prophetic voice must be raised.
219. Nor is peace “simply the absence of warfare, based on a precarious balance of power; it is fashioned by efforts directed day after day towards the establishment of the ordered universe willed by God, with a more perfect justice among men”. In the end, a peace which is not the result of integral development will be doomed; it will always spawn new conflicts and various forms of violence.
Let the people of the earth, including those of Western Sahara, peacefully raise their own prophetic voices. It is called democracy. Do not force them into violence to get justice and then use “the terror” to justify continuing injustice. I, with my peaceful words of justice, do not beg, I DEMAND human rights for the people of Western Sahara. So should you. Loudly and clearly, as in, for example:
Dear Clinton Foundation:
Give back that blood money, and support liberation of and justice for the people of Western Sahara, or forego any credibility on the subject of “liberty and justice for all.” According to the National Catholic Reporter:
[T]he Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), a Moroccan government-owned mining company that controls one of the world’s largest phosphate mines in the occupied Western Sahara, is the primary donor to the Clinton Global Initiative conference last week in Marrakech. This and other support provided to the Clinton Foundation by OCP — now totaling as much as $5 million — has raised some eyebrows, given Hillary Clinton’s efforts as secretary of state to push the Obama administration to recognize Morocco’s illegal annexation of the territory through a dubious “autonomy” plan promoted by King Mohammed VI that would deny the people of Western Sahara the option of independence as international law requires.
You are a hypocritical disgrace.