The Ebola catastrophe that threatens to be the next deadly pandemic is entirely unleashed by capitalism and will be a holocaust against the poor.
It is a product of environmental destruction, overcrowding, hunger and the absence of public health infrastructure - exacerbated by years of war.
The virus is not new and has been extensively studied for nearly 40 years, not least because it's first appearance in 1976 in Southern Sudan and then in Congo (from whose Ebola river it gets it's name) was suspected of being a Cold War biological plot by the respective rival super powers.
It is one of a range of Haemorrhagic Fever viruses to have dwelt harmlessly in their hosts in deep forest interiors that have crossed the species barrier as environmental exploitation for logging and minerals brings them into closer contact with humans.
Previous outbreaks of virulent diseases like Ebola or Marburg virus (more familiar as Green Monkey disease) have occurred in small isolated communities and have been ruthlessly quarantined to burn themselves out, often by the affected communities themselves. But war and commercial interest have rapidly increased urban migration and populations living in large shanty towns. Poor in income and food choices, many are dependent on the trade in 'bush meats' to eat, increasing contact with host species. In the case of this outbreak, the trade in Fruit Bat meat, a known host of the virus, is seen as the most likely cause.
Now, poverty, combined with overcrowding and poor sanitation have turned what might previously have burned out into a raging firestorm - with very few people to fight the fire. Liberia had just 100 medical doctors at the beginning of the outbreak and the medical charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has borne the brunt, with the help of local largely unqualified volunteers. This has been the case in Guinea and Sierra Leone too.
It is the scale of this challenge versus the paucity of resources that has led to the abandonment of well established protocols for responding to an outbreak. And it has come as no surprise. In May, MSF made clear they were overwhelmed and that neither they nor the governments of the affected countries could contain or treat the epidemics. They had indicated in March that this point would soon be reached.
Seven months later we prepare for its imminent arrival in the world outside Africa, shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
The World Health Organisation and United Nations appear to have woken up - but they are not benign third parties, they are effectively the international organs of the wealthy major powers. While promises and preparations begin for an effective response, infection rates are rising exponentially, doubling every 3 weeks. Numbers in West Africa, as more countries in the region report cases ( notably Nigeria, Africa's largest economy), are expected to rise from the current 10,000 to nearly 1,500,000 early next year.
Care currently, where it's provided, is palliative - there is no available treatment or vaccine. If people survive long enough through feeding and hydration, their immune systems begin to fight back and may beat the virus. 50% will survive. Where this care isn't available, mortality soars to 70-80%. The maths is not rocket science.
Comparisons of scale and proportionality are erroneously being draw with other major global killers like Malaria and HIV, but these are diversions that don't stand up to scrutiny.
Malaria kills nearly a million people a year with perhaps 200 ,000,000 cases. On the face of it, Ebola seems negligible. But malaria is a known quantity and people with malaria do not go on to infect twice their number every 3 weeks.
HIV began as a cross species infection, probably in the 1950's. Its asymptomatic phase is around 10 years and while it can be specifically transmitted, it is not infectious passing through ordinary human contact.
There is however one striking parallel - those who these diseases kill are overwhelming the worlds poorest people, and as with Ebola, the rich world belatedly responded when its own interests of commerce and profit where threatened.
It took 15 years for effective HIV treatments to emerge following the first reported cases, a luxurious time scale compared to Ebola.
Poor people, black people, cheap labour, capitalism's 'variable capital' is seen as expendable. But now the developed world's trade, profit and security interests are directly affected, and capitalism belatedly responds. Its self interest is always short term and this greedy self interest now confronts us with a potential crisis of unimaginable proportions.
Africa is portrayed as a continent in perpetual crisis - those portraying it as such seldom own up to being the cause. As the state managers of capital prepare to pull up the drawbridge and impose their own forms of self interested quarantine, millions in Africa will be left to die.
Governments are already using this, as with the other monsters they have created (the war on terror, recession and debt) to cow and intimidate us into compliance and submission - if we let them!
Even when this slaughter has been stopped or burned out, the ruthless exploitation of the planet and its people for profit has more doors to catastrophe to open to enrich the few at the expense of the rest of us. Our struggle against it is literally a mater of life or death. Its eradication or ours.
Statement of participants of 8th Balkan Anarchist Bookfair - September 13, 2014.
Over the Walls of Nationalisms and Wars
Statement of participants of 8th Balkan Anarchist Bookfair
It is clear that nationalism is a tool used against the exploited classes. In the Balkans, (especially in the region of ex-Yugoslavia) the rise of nationalist ideology in the 1990’s helped enable the brutal capitalist attack against society. It further atomized the population and destroyed established networks of cooperation and solidarity.
The need to confront nationalist ideology from a radical and anti-authoritarian perspective gathered us in Mostar on the 5th and 6th of September 2014, for the 8th Balkan Anarchist Bookfair. We came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Albania, Romania, Greece and other countries outside the Balkan area.
The true nature of nationalism is nowhere more obvious then in Mostar, a city divided in two, with the signs of wartime brutality still evident in the streets of the city.
It is essential to realize that this division was not the cause of war, but the consequence of wars and nationalist ideologies created by the ruling class.
This was clear to the demonstrators in Tuzla who wrote the graffiti “Death to nationalism” as well as to demonstrators in Mostar who burned down the headquarters of both nationalist parties in February.
Still, in other parts of the world new nationalisms and conflicts are being created on similar lines and with predictable consequences.
Many in the Ukraine today think they have to respond to the false choices of war posed by states and corporations (amongst them are even some anarchists and “anarchists”. We, however, maintain that nationalism is always an ideology that reproduces the State, a system of repression and exploitation, and pits the exploited and oppressed against one another. Today we see in the Ukraine the same mechanism that was used also in the war(s) in former Yugoslavia: Nationalism is the tool of those in power to push people into war for the interests of capital. As anarchists, we opposed all war efforts in former Yugoslavia through solidarity that continues to this day. Far from liberal pacifism or obsessions with left-nationalist guerrilla armies, our struggle will never take the side of militarist politics and the destruction that all states are based on.
Against nationalism, militarism and war! Against all governments and states! For solidarity and autonomy!
 From anti-colonial nationalists of “Mlada Bosna” from Sarajevo of 1914 influenced by anarchism, and especially to the case of posers like the “anarcho”-nationalist group “Slobodari” from Sarajevo of 2014, all attempts of combining anarchism with nationalism, have shown that the result is simply: nationalism. “Slobodari”, are a small group from Sarajevo who pose as anarchists but are in contact with Nazis from the Ukraine (the so called autonomous nationalists “Autonomous resistance” ). They have many websites which created a lot of confusion, including a Balkan anarchist black cross website, more on this here: http://www.sabotagemedia.anarkhia.org/2014/03/on-self-styled-libertarians-and-antiauthoritarians-from-bosnia/
See also, transcript of Slovenian radio show prior to the bookfair (English part is at 1:48 till 20:00 with one song in between):
English text from the radio show:
Once again the news coming out of Ireland regarding the welfare of women and children is both appalling and yet unsurprising.
The country which imprisoned and starved women and their babies for being respectively pregnant and illegitimate and which buried them in mass graves, has committed another atrocity against a woman. She is unnamed, a non-national, who speaks little English and was, at the time the crisis pregnancy began, a minor aged 17.
This woman has suffered multiple rapes. Firstly she was raped by the penis, then by the medical instruments wielded by doctors and other practitioners who forced the equipment into her body, down her throat and into her abdomen and womb. She was forced to carry the foetus she did not want. The whole horrible, sad mess is another example of how a male-based, church-based, state based power deals with women who don’t fit and accept its structure. When we do not accept the power of a male-based religion, a capitalist patriarchal state we are assaulted by its full strength.
When Savita Haloppanovar died in Galway 2 years ago, after being refused a termination despite being in the throes of miscarriage and suffering from septicaemia, many reproductive rights activists including myself, thought, this is it. They can’t allow any more disasters like this. The law will change, people needing terminations will be able to get them where they need them and when they need them. We thought the Irish State would not want to expose itself to any further international embarrassment. In the last month the Irish State has been heavily criticised by the United Nations for its cruel abortion legislation. But, no. The wheels of legislation rumble slowly and the bodies of those pregnant are ground between the cogs of the machine.
The State does not exist for the welfare of its citizens. The State exists for the benefit of, amongst others, the powerful and the rich, the religious hierarchy and those who benefit from patriarchy. We anarchists know this well. Horror stories such as this one will continue as long as we are governed . It will only be in an anarchist revolution that all the components of this horrible story, from male violence, oppressive state legislation, medical dominance, ageism where young people’s decision making is invalidated will be removed. The organisations working in Ireland are campaigning for the repeal of the 8th amendment. Whilst this will improve the situation it will not truly free us. The power of the state will remain.
“Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” Edmund Burke
As the threat of war looms in Eastern Europe echoing the threat of a third World War yet to come, the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One looms more as a lesson for our time than merely a dusty piece of history.
In 1914, a violent act of Slav nationalism took the breaks off Europe's alliances and treaty systems driving rival power blocks into a devastating armed conflict that wracked Europe with its consequences for the century to come. The current conflict is as much framed by treaties and timetables as then. Russia wants its share of Ukraine before it slides into the framework of the EU and NATO and the stakes would be higher.
Before the current fog over the Crimea there were those in Britain who sought to revise the First World War and claim it as a source of national pride and dress up the death of 13 million as a price worth paying in a “just” war. Were the millions of workers led into a war between ruling elites of bankers and aristocrats “lions led by donkeys” or true sons of freedom defending all that was good in Britain? The debate is a smoke screen to hide one of the greatest mass murders in history. It's hardly surprising that those who want to celebrate the generals and spirit of Empire and claim the war as “just” are the privileged great grandchildren of the “donkeys”.
The current conflict has the same roots as its historical predecessor – a conflict between elites, the gangster capitalism of the Russian oligarchs versus the free market plunderers of the neoliberal European club. “Just” or “unjust” is the new smokescreen again.
International conflicts between or within states only have one lesson, and that is those of us with no real stake, workers on both sides, die, lead or driven by the donkeys, to preserve their power, profit and privilege. The lessons now as then are the same – we die, the rich pillage, and their pride is our shame.
“All wars are fought for money.” Socrates (philosopher)
AFem2014 will be an anarcha-feminist conference held in London on Sunday, October 19th, 2014. It is being organised by a group of anarcha-feminists of varying genders, backgrounds and histories. We want to use AFem2014 to build concretely towards the transformation of our own experience, and towards toppling all institutions and ideas which oppress us.
AFem2014 will be the first of what we hope will be a series of international anarcha-feminist conferences. We are spread across several different continents and speak a variety of languages, and we need to raise money to help with travel and accommodation costs for participants coming from far away.
We are also committed to making AFem2014 as inclusive as possible, and are taking donations to pay for BSL interpreters for the conference.
You can find more information about AFem2014 on our website, http://afem2014.wordpress.com/, and can get in touch on twitter or via email: afem (at) afed.org.uk. If you can't make it this October but want to help out in some way, please consider donating to help us reach our goal.
To donate please follow this link: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2mmvd/
- Four public talks on Bakunin for the 2014 bi-centenary - Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Sheffield
- Why Willy Wonka Shouldn’t Win : New Zealand/Aotearoa 2014 elections
- The Fire Next Time? - article from Organise! magazine #82 - Summer 2014
- 2014, the year of Bakunin - information about bicentennial events
- IFA statement - War is the Health of the State - May 2014
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