Category Archives: Colonialism

Capital milking its system – poetry from a comrade

When I lived briefly in North Carolina and Wisconsin, I worked as a farm hand and fruit picker in some very prolific farming communities. I worked alongside Amish, immigrants, and high-end industrial farmers and made a point to jot down notes every day from my conversations and observations. A few years later, I came across my old notes, and rearranged them into a longer dairy capitalismstream-of-consciousness specifically about the Dairy-Industrial-Complex; a configuration of all the players involved in dairy production. The poem has no conclusion or clear ending; it is merely a commentary on the deterioration of health and food production for profit. This type of Industrial-Complex shows the absolute necessity for the complete unity of class struggle and ecological struggle.

In the Industrial-Complex, the global domino effect, in a global competition for greater profit, imported milk is condensed, canned, and distributed without charge to the poor countries of Mali, Niger, and Yap. The canned milk, though labeled “Nor forSale” in English, is sold in the local markets.
The amount of canned milk for sale worldwide depends on the economic conditions in North America, Europe and the South Pacific.
It depends on how much milk Nestle, Hershey or Kraft buys for their annual production and on the fluctuating value of the dollar, yen or Euro, which maintains its colonial ties to the CEFA in West Africa.
It depends on the consumption of milk in the rich countries; how hot the summer is and how much ice cream people eat.
It depends on the world’s annual yield of soybeans, one of the major competitors of milk products.
It depends on the consumption of corn for ethanol, for cow feed, for high fructose corn syrup.
It depends on Michelle Obama’s “War on Obesity” and the Department of Health’s concern for any diseases in raw milk.
It depends on the black market of raw dairy products, the costs of middle men, transportation costs and the popularity of whole foods stores.
It depends on the dairy subsidies and foreign aid appropriations made by U.S. congress; the food policies of the United Nations high commissioner for earthquake victims in Haiti and Pakistan; and the mercurial aid programs of religious and other private charitable organizations all over the world.
In the beginning, it started with the small farmer, bought out by a factory farm. The crops are then rotated annually- three years soy beans, one year corn, and again. The sprays; the pesticides.
It started with the land purchase. Forty acres and 30,000 cows, all walking around in their own feces; milking machines; tasers; small, confined spaces.
It started when the soil depletes and the factory farm moves to a different area. When a corporate hustler gives a high five to a politician who sells out their state’s land for a competitive profit.
And in the end, it changes the nature of the landscape, the culture of the towns, the priorities of local governments, monopolization of local economies. We see Walmart, green-washing, and cancer. The soil is sick and it runs off into the water. The people are sick and rush to Walgreens for prescriptions. The plants are sick- tomato and cucumber blight.
It ends with cultural phobias- bacteria is harmful and must be eliminated. Adding chemicals, taking out proteins, homogenization, pasteurization, skim, fat free; a culture of fat phobias.
When we get back to canned milk in Mali, we see advertisement. When Nestle suffers, they tell mothers that breast feeding is unhealthy. So buy our powdered milk products for life longevity, for child’s health!
A suffered profit perpetuates the war on the Global South, the class struggle, the prioritization of profit over decent milk in elementary schools, over growing cancer cells, over fractured communities, and brainwashed understandings of health.

What Communists Can Learn From Native Struggle: Sogorea Te and Primitive Accumulation

Driving North from Oakland, past West Berkeley’s smokestacks and Richmond’s industrial warehouses, you eventually cross the Carquinez bridge to the first city in what is referred locally as the North Bay – Vallejo, “The City of Opportunity.”  Vallejo is known as the home of Mac Dre, Sly Stone, and E-40 (amongst others), as well as to a sizeable Pilipino population.

The city bears the name of General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that piece of paper that codified the theft of over half of Mexican land. That treaty marks the transition from Mexican colonial domination over native american peoples, to an even more heinous form of racial domination under Anglo rule. Indians were the base of the productive system as slaves to Mexican and Anglo ranchers, producing wealth that carried California eventually to become the richest state in the richest country in the world. Today, Vallejo is known internationally as one of the first cities to go bankrupt during the financial meltdown of ’07-’08 and the native community is rising to assert their legacy, reclaim their history and resist capitalist development of one of their most precious ancestral burial grounds:  Sogorea Te, or Glen Cove. Continue reading

Lessons from Domitila’s Experience

The following is less of a book review and more of an interpretation of the lessons which Domitila Barrios De Chungara’s classic autobiography, Let Me Speak, can teach us as a new generation of revolutionaries.  It was written by a Bay Area comrade and we see it as an important testament to the knowledge and wisdom we can gain from engaging revolutionary autobiographies and applying these lessons within our class struggles today.

Lessons from Domitila’s Experience

I just finished reading Let Me Speak!, Testimony of Domitila, a Woman of the Bolivian Mines. The book is a personal narrative by Domitila Barrios, where she explains her life’s struggle against poverty, sexism, exploitation, hunger…and capitalism in general. Domitila Barrios was the wife of a Bolivian miner in a region of Bolivia called Siglo XX. She breaks down their situation, detailing how the lives of miners are cut short due to overwork, bad pay, and silicosis, a lung disease mining people are all too familiar with. It’s a personal story which reflects on the historical situation of Bolivia at the time.

But I’m not planning on writing a summary of the book, but rather point out some of the major lessons Domitila’s experiences offer us.

Theory & Practice

One thing that really struck at me was how critical, undogmatic, and radical she was without having done much theoretical study. Whereas many of us radicals in the belly of the beast understand these conditions through political study, Domitila learned the contradictions of capitalism because they were brutally enforced on her and her people. She didn’t need to read State and Revolution to understand that the Bolivian military and police served the foreign and domestic capitalists, made all too clear through the frequent massacres, arrests, and deportations of people in struggle. She didn’t need to read Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism to see how American imperialism sucked Bolivia’s mineral wealth dry in order to build up its own economy and how this put Bolivia in a state of extreme dependence and subservience to foreign interests. She didn’t need to read the Communist Manifesto to understand that the workers and peasants were in a life and death class struggle against their oppressors. In fact, simply to exist, to eat, to work and to educate themselves required great sacrifices and political commitment. I love how Domitila insisted that if intellectuals and university folks were to come to help guide working people as to the laws of capitalism and the world situation, they’d better speak in terms the people can understand and not in their theoretical jargon. The concepts of class struggle, capitalism, and revolution can  be grasped by the oppressed in resistance if it is done in a way that connects the dots between their personal experiences and the objective laws of our society and is not done in an elitist or condescending manner. Not that she didn’t do any political study; the repeated brutality of the military and police against her, the accusations her of being a communist and liaison to Che Guevara’s guerrillas, and the knowledge that socialism, an alternative to capitalism, existed in other parts of the world during her time, prompted her to study socialism and communism and see it as the only real path towards human liberation.

Women’s Liberation

Continue reading

200 Years of Imperialism in 4 Minutes

CAPITALIST uneven development – imperialism – speaks for its racist self.

… a large proportion of the so-called underdeveloped countries are in total stagnation, and… in some of them the rate of economic growth is lower than that of the population increase.

These characteristics are not fortuitous; they correspond strictly to the nature of the capitalist system in full expansion, which transfers to the dependent countries the most abusive and barefaced forms of exploitation. It must be clearly understood that the only way to solve the questions now besetting mankind is to eliminate completely the exploitation of dependent countries by developed capitalist countries, with all the consequences that this implies.

-Che Guevara, 1964