Categories
Tasks and Perspectives

Nigeria’s Neglected Rural Communities and Need for Intervention.

The term ‘rural community’ is very ambiguous, and as such it can be very cumbersome to define.  Though some obvious characteristics of rural communities are a lower population density, a lack of social amenities, and an absence of healthcare providers relative to their urban counterparts, the rural community can also be associated with all kinds of good. All of the unspoiled serene earthly beauty, families whose diets are nearly free of processed foods and sugary carbonated beverages, and landscapes free from  toxic waste and polluted air.  That’s just the beginning of what rural communities can be.

 Right now though, this is no longer the case in the Nigerian rural communities who in recent times have faced threats of hunger, insecurity, pandemic, ecological disaster etc. Members of rural communities in Niger delta are breathing bad air, drinking contaminated water, and have lost the ecosystem they long depended on, all because of hydrocarbon exploration by multinational oil companies and oil bunkering.  Industrial ventures that only serve capitalist elites in the city and a select privileged few willing to exploit their fellow man in the rural communities.  This exploration impacts the livelihood of people in the Niger Delta which revolves around farming and fishing.  Because of the exploration the lands and water have become so polluted with crude oil that there is continuous gas flaring and pipe eruptions.  The combination of factors have led to a brutally overwhelmed ecosystem.  This ecological disaster combined with corporate greed has greatly contributed to an increase in poverty, poor health, benefited the continuing rise of organized communal warlords, and the overall misery of Nigerian rural communities.

Read our previous article on capitalism-in-nigeria/ for more on the ecological disaster caused by oil exploration activity in the Niger delta. 

Rural Nigeria has been ever burdened with poverty, lack of healthcare, poor infrastructure, poor education, high maternal death rate, high child mortality, a severe lack of social amenities, and so much more.   Despite this extreme poverty there has been too little to no legislative action nor substantive policy attempts to address these conditions in the rural communities suffering in this country. 

Despite the devastating effects of colonialism on the culture of colonized people, rural communities still retain their cultural heritage.  Most annual cultural festivities continue to take place in these communities; cultures and traditions that promote  communality and the impersonal relationships that continue to exist among the rural people. The spirit of cooperation and mutualism that exists among members of rural communities in Nigeria is ever visible relative to the urban areas.  But in time the indigenous cultures will face evermore cultural erosion and extinction, but until then rural communities remain a place of hope .  

Nigeria’s rural communities are foundational to guaranteeing the colonizer’s food security going into the future. 

As food insecurity, poverty, and malnutrition continue to ravage the Sahel Region, it is rural communities that have continued to provide the backbone to the remaining food security in the region. In spite of this most rural communities have faced a systematic and total disconnection from the apparatus of government. Poverty, hunger, disease, inadequate healthcare if it exists at all, the dilapidated road networks, and underfunded schools clearly highlight the complete exclusion.  

One will wonder then, in spite of its major role in feeding the nation, why over the years the government of Nigeria has not implemented policies and programmes to ensure a continuing, decent standard of living.  Things like providing the rural areas functional healthcare, electricity, and aqueducts. At least provide them with an accessible road network to accommodate the transportation of their farming and agricultural products. This is supposed to be the primary responsibility of any functional government anyway!  

 It is imperative to advocate for policies and programs that will ensure rural communities get attention from both government bodies and  concerned individuals. We can help rural farmers organize a union that will push forth their demand either through protests. It could be boycotting moving their agricultural products to the urban areas. We can help train rural farmers on ICT  Nigerian government to pay attention to the yearnings and aspirations of people living in the rural communities! 

Categories
Tasks and Perspectives

Solidarity with all the oppressed Nigerians

Isimala and Yusuf are from Gwadabawa, the local government area of Sokoto, but both now live in  Abuja Nigeria. Isimala was born  1978 (42yrs) and Yusuf 1975 (45yrs) respectively; Isimala has two wives with seven children, while Yusuf has three wives with ten children. Both reviewed that they have been farmers all their lives and did not attend any form of classroom education. 

Rice and corn FarmDeiDeiAbujaNigeria#Yusulf&Isimalay

In Spite of being farmers all their lives, they do not have farmland of their own. They are farming for big oligarchies who have the power to seize land and control the peasant economy. Like many other small farmers that make up this peasantry class, Yusulf and Isimala are in abject poverty. Life has not been easy for them–something true for all the oppressed people of Nigeria, regardless of whether they are out in the farms or taking on wage labor in the city. Like in much of Nigeria, In a time where house rent has risen unprecedentedly in Abuja,  one will wonder with the level of poverty in Nigeria, which Yusulf&Isimala is completely victims of, how have they managed with accommodation? According Yusulf&Isimala, they have lived in Abuja for 14years and have found shelter on any uncompleted buildings and sometimes move under any available cave. It is disheartening that our people are poor in the midst of plenty, is painful that millions of Nigerians are  going to bed hungry,  Nigeria’s poverty crisis is worsening, Oxfam, World Bank data, while politicians keep looting our common resources with numerous tactics,  with corruptions well planned and executed.  

These variables over the years have become powerful divisive tools used in Nigeria, to keep the oppressed class isolated and angry against each other. The oppressors have hid under them to divide and keep us away from each other. Someone like Yususl and Isimala who is Muslims from Northern     Nigeria, have a different political and religious view which is  designed in such way that made them think the right people to be in position of power are muslims, and the best religion is Islam, and this is applicable to someone in the in the Southern Nigeria. This is completely a gamic and designed injustice by the the oppressor to make sure we don’t unite.    

Ethnicity, Religion, political affiliation and gender a gamic of the oppressors . 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/08/nigerian-ethnic-violence-conflict-amplifies-religious-divide-190820103814529.html

We are one people, all the oppressed people of the world are one, all the oppressed Nigerians are one people. Religion, ethnicity, political affiliation and gender does not matter. We must unite against political corruption and we must unite to change those who have kept us in the cave for many years.

Since Yusulf&Isimala is suffering abject poverty as a result of corruption and Emeka and Olamide are still suffering the same poverty as a result of corruption makes us one people. What we have is two classes of people, two religions, two political parties, the oppressed and oppressors.  

We are one people.  

Musa is a herder from #Abuja. He is passionate to succeed in life, but the system subjected him to this exploitative job. Musa, has never been to any classroom education before. The deprivation is intentional, and is geared towards making him a lesser human who’s psych can be manipulated to serve the master business.

The ethnic tensions, which many have lost their lives to, is a manipulated battle to grab up land by the herders, all while getting protection of the land by farmers. This animosity serves the oligarchies, who profit off the land. Its obvious this divide is manipulation by the oppressors to further divide the people who are oppressed. People like #ShyibuMusa walk miles to feed cattle that he has no economic control over.

He is from #Fulaniethnic group, I am from #Igboethnic group, two ethnic group that the oppressors have manipulated in hopes of dividing us. But I love him and he loves me. He is a victim of oppression and I am a victim of oppression, so we are one. We must, as people from the same oppressed class, unite irrespective of your ethnicity, religion gender, and sex. We must unite in a formidable class movement. This is how we will end oppression of us both.

I stand in solidarity with him and I feel his suffering as if it were my own. Workers of the world unite.

Categories
Educational Examples

The Igbo women’s revolution of 1929.

Comrades, let us be clear: there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. In Africa, the contribution of women in the fight against imperialism must be acknowledged for its crucial role in our revolutionary journey. In this article, we tell the story of the 1929 women’s revolution in Southeastern Nigeria. 

What were they revolting against?

Women were protesting against the exploitative and oppressive rule by warrant chiefs, unjust court systems, and taxes imposed on market women. All of this is rooted in British colonial rule. Warrant chiefs were the result of British colonialism, with British imperialists appointing chief-status to some of the indigenous elite. This resulted in some holding unprecedented levels of individual authority over many colonies; for example, prior to colonialism, the Igbo people made decisions through debate or through general consensus, not through the declaration of chiefs or kings. Warrant chiefs became increasingly exploitative, accumulating wealth at the expense of their subjects. Further, this colonialist intervention worsened (or in some cases, created) patriarchal systems of oppression, as only men were allowed to be warrant chiefs. 

Much of this exploitation occured through the court and taxation systems, which had now become corrupted thanks to colonial influence on the political system through the elevated status of warrant chiefs and the presence of British officials. For example, warrant chiefs began seizing property from their subjects, and they would imprison anyone who spoke out against them. Later, colonial administrators announced intentions to impose a special taxes on the Igbo market women, which would of course lead to the disproportionate success of the new European-owned stores:

“These women were responsible for supplying the food to the growing urban populations in Calabar, Owerri, and other Nigerian cities. They feared the taxes would drive many of the market women out of business and seriously disrupt the supply of food and non-perishable goods available to the populace.”

Aba Women’s Riots, Marissa Evans, Black Past

Forced economic reliance is a persistent tactic seen in colonial expansion, especially in current, “post-colonial” imperialism. For example, if you check out our other article Capitalism in Nigeria, and a call for unity of the proletariat!, we go over the environmental degradation caused primarily by western oil companies. This imperialist resource extraction destroys local soils and waterways, making it impossible for Nigerians to rely on farming and fishing.

Thus, they’re forced to rely on imports into the country, fostering this economic reliance on the imperialist powers exploiting them. This is also why the myth that technological development can “fix” the poverty of so-called undeveloped countries is so dangerous. It’s literally saying that addressing poverty in these countries can be solved only by more imperialist intervention…it’s masking the true cause of the problem, and it’s often framing the “helpers” as those seeking to profit further off economic exploitation. This is often nothing more than a reshuffling of exploitation meant to manufacture the consent of the exploited parties involved, and redirect anger towards the parties that aren’t really responsible. The misdirection of anger is very likely why local warrant chiefs were granted control of colonies. This masks the true source of systemic power. Thankfully, the Igbo women were not fooled by this: “Although much of the anger was directed against the warrant chiefs, most Nigerians knew the source of their power, British colonial administrators.”

What happened? 

In November 1929, thousands of Igbo women took to the streets in protest. This revolutionary action was led by rural women in the Owerri and Carlaba provinces, as well as in smaller nearby towns.

“Using the traditional practice of censoring men through all night song and dance ridicule (often called ‘sitting on a man’), the women chanted and danced, and in some locations forced warrant chiefs to resign their positions. The women also attacked European owned stores and Barclays Bank and broke into prisons and released [political] prisoners. They also attacked Native Courts run by colonial officials, burning many of them to the ground. Colonial Police and troops were called in. They fired into the crowds that had gathered at Calabar and Owerri, killing more than 50 women and wounding over 50 others. During the two month “war” at least 25,000 Igbo women were involved in protests against British officials.”

Aba Women’s Riots, Marissa Evans, Black Past

This gathering of women was compromised of women from six different ehthnic groupsㅡlbibio, andoni, ogoni, bonny, opobo, and Igbo. These women came together in solidarity to fight colonialism and Patriarchal systems of oppression, despite the emerging ethnic and religious tensions (which were ultimately rooted in colonial rule). This event marked the first major anti-colonial revolt led by women in west Africa, and many anti-colonial movements in Africa calling for independence from imperialist forces were built around this very revolt.

Did it work?

Indeed the purpose of the revolt was achieved! During this time, many warrant chiefs were forced to resign, and sixteen courts were destroyed. Colonial authorities were forced to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women, and the power of warrant chiefs was significantly weakened. In 1930, the colonial government was even forced to abolish the system of warrant chiefs altogether, and several women were appointed to the native court systems.  

Nigeria, today.

Currently, Nigeria is facing severe oppression. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more Nigerians dying of security officers than increasingly violent policing than the virus itself. With ports closing down, many are more fearful of starvation than coronavirus:

Njoku and her husband relied on their eldest son, who is into furniture work, for their daily meals. Unfortunately, that source of income has been put on hold since the state was on lockdown about four weeks ago. […]

The grey-haired woman has heard of government palliatives, food and a sum of N20,000 the Federal Government is giving out to vulnerable people like her to cushion the effect of lockdown but none has yet to come her way.  ‘I have not received any palliatives from government,’ she disclosed.

“‘I have become sick because of hunger. If not for God and help from some generous people, maybe I would have died by now,’ the grandmother bemoaned as she began to share her ongoing excruciating moments.

We’re old, poor and hungry, yet we’ve received no cash from FG –Lagos’ vulnerable persons, Punch News

This reliance on imports is explicitly linked to environmental degradation decreasing the viability of farming and fishing. This environmental degradation, in turn, is directly connected to western oil corporations, such as Shell and Exon-Mobile.

This forced reliance on imports is now resulting in widespread hunger throughout the country. Beyond this, as the above article indicates, help is not being sent to the families most in need of assistance. Instead, they’re met with harsh policing under the guise of safety, as if people aren’t starving, they’re just willingly disregarding quarantine. They’re not, they are hungry and in need of support. This is the same government that turned away during violent, forced evictions in waterfront communities. This is beyond corruption, this is a slow genocide.


To help out comrades in Unite4Action-Nigeria, consider contributing to the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund (GoFundMe). We appreciate any help you can give!


For more on the history of feminism, check out our related article:

Categories
System Assessments

10 ways COVID-19 is showing us the cracks in a global capitalist system.

Pictures added by Regina Larsen.

In the past few months, the pandemic has laid bare the horrors of our global neoliberal system. Here’s some lessons I’ve learned since the outbreak of COVID-19:


(1) All the resources and labor funneled into the military has done little to protect us from this crisis, and may even wind up exacerbating the spread.

Instead of investing in healthcare, workers’ time and energy has been wasted on  nuclear bombs, costly wars based on manufactured threats (that fail to even accomplish their real goals), and marketing meant to sway public opinion in favor of the war industry. 


(2) The US military is more concerned with its public image than the lives of its soldiers, or the lives of the American people.

As this disease rapidly spreads, militaries can’t even be bothered to protect their own soldiers and sailors, with the US Navy going so far as to fire Capt. Brett Crozier for trying to protect his sailors from infection after several aboard the aircraft carrier tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


“More than a dozen soldiers at installations across the United States and overseas told Army Times they’re frustrated with commanders still sending troops to the field, forcing soldiers to come to work to do mundane tasks that aren’t mission essential, and failing to test potentially sick individuals.”

Soldiers’ fears grow as commanders train through coronavirus outbreak, Army Times

A soldier assigned to 2nd Infantry Division on the joint base told Army Times, “in terms of PT and daily battle rhythm, absolutely nothing has changed.” The soldier goes on, “this is all taking place at a base which is in the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. We have over 100 cases in the two counties that surround JBLM and where a majority of families live, and over a thousand cases throughout the rest of Washington.” Apparently it’s “good leadership” to needlessly put thousands of soldiers and civilians at risk of infection so long as you don’t hurt public perception. According to a US Navy veteran we spoke to (who wishes to remain anonymous), this focus on public image at the expense of public safety has always been how the military operates, especially when it comes to the recruits themselves:


“The military wants to be able to control the soldiers; that’s what the chain of command is all about. You’re basically not a US citizen, you’re owned by the military. It’s a propaganda issue [in regards to Capt. Crozier being relieved of duty] is what it is. […]

“They’re less concerned with the lives of sailors or soldiers; they’re more concerned with the propaganda. […] I mean, that goes way back. Look at Vietnam. They [just] cared about selling a war to America.”


He further remarks on how US military conditions are simply not capable of handling a disease outbreak like this, highlighting, again, that retaliatory measures against those speaking out is more about controlling soldiers “through fear” than it is about a genuine security risk that could harm the American people. 


“What do we do with all these soldiers in basic training? In barracks? They don’t want to be there. […]

“Your living quarters are very small in a military ship. They don’t have [their own] rooms—there’s like 30 guys living in this small space. It’s worse than prison, really, as far as proximity goes. They’re all gonna get infected…there’s no way around it. […] I mean, look at [the spread of the virus in] cruise ships, and a Navy ship is even worse.

“All these people in small spaces. […] When you’re in basic…[training is] going on 12 months a year—all branches of the service. […] You have 80-100 guys living in barracks of bunkbeds, so yeah, it [COVID-19] gets in there, it spreads like wildfire.”


It’s worth considering that pneumonia and influenza killed more soldiers and sailors in the first World War than did enemy weapons, and that many researchers believe the spread of Spanish Influenza was significantly aided by wartime conditions (e.g. cramped quarters, and the war taking precedent over containing the outbreak).


(3) So-called first world countries have extremely poor healthcare systems.

These wealthy neoliberal countries seem almost entirely unable to address this public health crisis. In Italy, political officials delayed early containment, allowing the disease to spread quickly. In the US, faulty and delayed testing has led to widespread confusion. Containment was also severely worsened by political officials and media coverage downplaying the severity of the virus. Further issues are brought on by the US for-profit healthcare system, particularly tying health coverage to employment:


“More than three million Americans just lost their jobs in the middle of a global pandemic. For those whose jobs offered benefits, that also probably means they’re losing their health insurance, too — exposing yet another way in which the US health system is vulnerable amid a public health emergency.”

How do 3 million newly unemployed people get health care?, Vox News


(4) Capitalist governments are more concerned with corporate profits than the actual people they govern.

Many political officials seem more concerned with protecting their personal assets, than their people. Healthcare workers are struggling to find/keep housing with landlords viewing them as a liability, and of course, capitalism doesn’t guarantee housing…even if you’re on the frontline protecting people from a public health crisis. 


“These are the same people who are going to take care of you if you wind up in the hospital, or God forbid the ICU. And if I’m sleeping in my car, I’m not functioning my best. … If you want people to help, they have to have a place to live.”

nurse from Hawaii who recently faced eviction (no name given to respect request for anonymity)

While the death toll rises, people are hoarding resources to try to make a profit off the pandemic, while major media outlets continue to address the real victims of this crisis—the wealthy. For example, this article by The New York Times frames a guy hoarding hand sanitizer (with the intention of price-gouging) as the victim, while a headline by The Washington Post reads The struggle to argue for opening the economy without sounding as if you’re okay with more people dying…the article itself is behind a paywall, naturally.  


(5) Capitalist unity ranges from fragile to nonexistent; the European Union appears to be nothing more than lip service.

The European Union has all but abandoned Italy, with no plans to send medical assistance or supplies despite Italy being one of the worst-hit countries. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic bitterly commented: “European solidarity does not exist. It was a fairytale.”


“This is a shocking failure of European solidarity. The impression in Italy, Spain and Serbia and so on is that the weaker links will be left alone.”

— head of a European think tank

Meanwhile, China and Cuba, long depicted by capitalist countries as anti-humanitarian, have stepped up, sending medical equipment and personnel to combat the outbreak in Italy. 


(6) The United Nation and the World Health Organization are not the peaceful, humanitarian organizations they pretend to be.

Iran is facing US economic sanctions on top of the COVID-19 breakout. Over 3000 Iranians have already died from the disease, and sanctions make the novel coronavirus all the more deadly.  


“Following correspondence about the U.S. government’s illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its direct impact on the health of the Iranian people, unfortunately, so far, the United Nations and other relevant organizations including the World Health Organization, which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients.

“Instead, despite the urging of scientists, physicians and even some elected US officials to lift sanctions amid a worldwide Covid-19 disease pandemic, this irrational, ruthless American government has further tightened sanctions against the Iranian people.”

Alireza Marandi, President of The Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran

Now the Iranian government is being forced to request emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Considering the IMF collaborates with the United Nations, and the IMF’s decades-long track record of “imposing unnecessary and often harmful conditions on borrowing countries,” silence from the UN is very likely the real solidarity of capitalists. That is, the US has long been obsessed with gaining control in Iran, and thanks to the corporatization within the UN, it’s unsurprising the UN is complacent with the US waging economic (and now medical) warfare against the Iranian people. 


(7) The US is falling back on racism and xenophobia, blaming China in an attempt to derail how both the Republicans and the Democrats have put Americans at risk, while protecting corporate interests. The government is further using the crisis to push policy through under the radar.

While Republicans downplayed the servety of the outbreak, the Democrats held primaries in several states during the coronavirus outbreak (bringing the legitimacy of the Democratic primaries into question). A close up during a recent press briefing revealed Trump had crossed out “corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” in his notes, indicating his calling the disease “Chinese Virus” is an intentional ploy to redirect blame onto China for the US’s inability to slow the spread of the virus. 

Blaming China is an especially nonsensical response, seeing as the pandemic is linked to capitalist land development and agricultural practices, climate change, and the US’s defunded and privatized healthcare system. Sentiments that China is covering up conditions, ignores that this is happening in the US now thanks to hospital privatization.

Further, agricultural practices in the US have actually been specifically noted as a risk for novel diseases. 

The following video by The Real News Network goes over how anti-Chinese racism around coronavirus is an extension of colonialist and racist sentiments built into the US socioeconomic system. It’s also worth noting that building up China as a threat relates to (2), that is, this outside “threat” is likely being leveraged as a way to control military recruits who are becoming increasingly frustrated with poor leadership. All branches continue to insist many members are “essential” despite there being a lack of pressing tasks for these members to even attend to…is the GOP using China as a manufactured threat to bolster the military’s both internal and external credibility amid growing concerns from soldiers that leadership is recklessly managing the crisis? 

The US government is not just utilizing China to divert blame from its own inability to stop the spread of the virus, the government is using the crisis itself to mask huge political moves from the public-eye (e.g. Shock Capitalism). The following image depicts just one example of this disturbing push towards quietly implementing neoconservative policies, such as increasing surveillance and policing.

Shock capitalism is a concern everywhere. Israel’s lockdown over coronavirus has halted Palestinian human rights work, but hasn’t ended over-policing and violent abuse


(8) We have been lied to about what matters.

Many of the institutions and ideologies we’ve been told are vital to society are only hindering a response to the outbreak. Lack of paid sick leave, largely justified as being a privilege one needs to earn rather than a right, is worsening the spread of the disease in the US. Aggressive policing in New York City isn’t protecting people, it’s worsening the spread of the virus, thereby putting more people at risk. And prisons aren’t the closed systems people seem to think they are, and, unsurprisingly, cramped living quarters, unsanitary/violent conditions, and poor healthcareseverely increase the risk of prisons becoming hotspots for the disease

Further, the shutdown of many businesses is proving (1) many of this work is not necessary (e.g. corporate lawyers, lobbyists), and (2) Marx’s labor theory of value is extremely relevant today.


(9) The pain many people are experiencing did not start with coronavirus.

We all depend on each other every single day, often in ways we don’t even consider. This disconnect begins to look like a caricature with the outbreak hitting countries like the US and Italy. Consider the farming co-operative near Rome, started by formerly exploited African fruit farmer:


“Many of the founders took part in the Rosarno revolt, an uprising in January 2010 in which hundreds of African fruit pickers whose labour was being exploited in Italy’s citrus groves rose up in support of a workmate seriously injured in a racist attack. The rebellion broke the silence surrounding the conditions of immigrant workers in the Italian countryside.”

“A beautiful thing”: the African migrants getting healthy food to Italians, The Guardian 

These workers are now working “twice as hard” in response to the COVID-19 outbreak because they want to, and because they care about the scarcity many local households are facing. Don’t be grateful for grocery store workers putting their health at risk to give you food…stand in solidarity with them and demand working conditions be made safer. Stop with this notion that people are only willing to work if they’re treated like garbage, or showered with wealth. Stop with the guilt-complexes, the superiority-complexes…morality, shame, and narcissism do nothing but obscure the system hurting people. 

Don’t be grateful for their exploitation feeding you or making your medical supplies, which is essentially what the sentiment “be grateful, there’s children starving in Africa” boils down to. Join hands together in the fight for workers rights…children in Africa don’t need to be starving in order for you to eat and it’s high time we realize that. Right now there are people in refugee camps worried about the outbreak worsening already poor living conditions, there’s elderly people in Italy more fearful of loneliness than the virus, and in Africa, many of us are more worried about starvation than coronavirus thanks to Western oil companies polluting the farmlands and waterways forcing us to become reliant on imports…keep in mind we don’t profit off oil extraction, we’re just left with the consequences.


(10) This is a class war…workers need to stand together in solidarity; further, this crisis really highlights how many people think pessimistic escapism is optimism.

The working class are all feeling the same pain, even if we’re isolated from one another by country, citizenship, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc. The problem is capitalism. We—workers, students, the unemployed, professionals—we need to stand together. This is a class war that we did not start. We need to stand together in solidarity right now, and we need to reject the ruling class’ plea that “we are in this together.” We, the workers, are in this together…if the exploiters would like to join in our fight for socialism, then they must do so on our terms. Corporations telling you “we are in this together” are trying to maintain the system that gives them all the power.

Be wary of the media telling you about the small business owner and the landlord that is only renting out the second floor of their house…they are using these people as a bludgeon against the working class. These people are not the ruling class, and we urge them to join together with us in solidarity. It is the international corporations that make it near-impossible for small businesses to survive. It is the ruling class that has led to the proletarianization of physicians, forcing doctors and nurses to work under exploitative and overly-demanding conditions

While it often seems as if the ruling classes aren’t themselves even happy, they are nonetheless the class with power. They are the class with a monopoly on violence that they’re quick to use if their power comes into question (e.g. police, military, etc.)…I don’t refrain from taking food from Bill Gates because I respect him, I refrain from doing so because I would be beaten, imprisoned, and/or killed. The ruling class is hoarding resources, enabling them to induce scarcity in areas to force people to do labor under conditions they would not normally agree to. They are manufacturing consent, and the COVID-19 crisis is making that glaringly obvious. 

Corporations telling us “we are in this together” are not being optimistic. Optimism is not pretending the world is already just when there is overwhelming evidence that it is not! That is the Just-World Phenomenon, and it is a way of excusing inequality. It is either cruel or pessimistic. That is, it is pessimistic to fall back on pretending the world is already just because that means it is you that thinks there is no hope of it getting better. If you cannot see hope in people discussing exploitation with passionate anger, it is you who is negative, not the people who are outraged…that outrage is fueled by the positive-thinking that things can get better if we stand together in solidarity and fight to make them better. 

There is a violent class war happening, and people need to realize socialists didn’t start it…socialists want to end it. Wealth is not an identity like race, religion, or sexuality. It is the material hoarding of resources at the expense of others. 

And if that doesn’t make you angry, you’re just not paying attention. 


Categories
Tasks and Perspectives

Pass the Nigerian climate change bill NOW!

Featured image: (2018) The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) reports that Nigeria has about 139 gas flare locations spread across the Niger Delta both in onshore and offshore oil fields.

Despite the global ecological devastation caused by climate change (especially in Nigeria), the Nigerian government has done little to implement legislation that will put a check on oil companies and other large industries polluting the environment. 80% of all wastewater coming from Nigerian industrial facilities receives no form of treatment whatsoever, and approximately 40m litres are spilled in just the Niger Delta region of Nigeria annually, often causing dangerous gas flaring that can kill hundreds of people. These industries continue to pollute our waters and destroy our farmland, making it impossible to fish or grow food. The response by the governmentㅡpast and presentㅡhas not been impressive. Indeed they’ve left many families homeless, hungry, and without access to clean drinking water, leading to cancerous diseases and other forms of illness.

Further, there has been little to no academic curriculum adjustment that will teach the younger generations of Nigeria the devastating effects of climate change, let alone the causes or remediation solutions. One can’t help but wonder if this is a deliberate act ensuring the Nigerian working classes suffer the brunt of this ecological disaster, all while left in the dark to what is happening to their soils and their waterways so that they are not inclined to speak out. It would seem the capitalist forces in power care only for increasing their profits, even at the expense of the ecosystem and the Nigerian people.

Rather than environmental justice, Nigerian families are being subjected to violent mass forced evictions, often in defiance of court orders.

The Unite4Action-Nigeria branch is on a mission to spread awareness and raise consciousness in Nigeria, especially among the youths. We want to educate the people on the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as how us Nigerians can push for remediation and political change to end the destruction. To my fellow workers of the world, please join Unite4Action-Nigerian in demanding the Nigerian government implement the Nigerian Climate Change Commission Bill into law immediately by signing our petition. This bill would compel multinational companies and industries to stop the pollution of our waterways, which currently ranges from oil spillage, to plastic and industrial wastewater disposal. Runoff further leads to the destruction of our farmlands, causing an outright public health risk. THE NIGERIAN NATIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE COMMISSION BILL was introduced in the National Assembly years ago, yet we’ve gotten little information on when the bill will be passed into law. The government must act now!


For more on the impacts of climate change in Nigeria, read our article discussing the ecological devastation in Nigeria! Also consider contributing to our Patreon:

Categories
System Assessments

Capitalism in Nigeria, and a call for unity of the proletariat!

Statistically, 1 in 5 Nigerian children will die before the age of five. The bulk of this mortality rate can be attributed to preventable illness—tetanus, malaria, nutritional deficiencies [1]. One of the leading causes of death in Nigeria is diarrheal disease [2], which is unsurprising considering 30% of people have no access to clean drinking water, and over 70% are subject to inadequate sanitation conditions [3]. Yet, it feels strange to say this country has poor infrastructure, seeing as it currently has over 150 oil fields and over 1400 active oil wells [4]. In fact, Nigeria is the largest crude oil producer in Africa, and in 2010, Nigeria was the fourth largest petroleum supplier to the United States [5]

The petroleum industry in Nigeria provides 65% of the Nigerian federal budget, and the industry is the source of 95% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. The top four petroleum extractors in Nigeria are Exxon Mobile (American), Chevron (American), Statoil (Norwegian), and Shell (Dutch). Other significant extractors include Addax Petroleum and Nexen Inc, both Chinese companies  [4]

While the most significant companies are actually American (US) or European, they do not abide by the environmental standards typical to those regions. For example, 80% of all wastewater coming from Nigerian industrial facilities receives no form of treatment whatsoever [5], and while 4m litres of oil are spilled annually in the United States (note: the US has surpassed Nigeria in gas and oil extraction), 40m litres are spilled in just the Niger Delta region of Nigeria annually [6]

Spills in the Niger Delta have gone unaddressed for decades (e.g. plans for clean up have been highly politicized, resulting in delays and inaction). The extent of spills and the lack of clean-up has led to severe soil and water contamination within the area. Life expectancy in the Niger Delta is 10 years below the national average, with national Nigerian life expectancy already being one of the lowest globally. Further, a high proportion of those residing in the Niger Delta rely on fishing and farming for work, so contamination has led to widespread unemployment and hunger—you can’t grow plants in polluted soil and fish can’t live in polluted waters. As noted in The Guardian, “multinational oil companies operate to severe double standards. While efforts are made to clean up spills in the US, Scotland or Norway, oil is left to flow unabated in Nigeria.” [6] It’s interesting that this article specifically cites the US and Norway, seeing as, of the top three petroleum companies in Nigeria, two are American and the other is Norwegian. Beyond contamination leading to hunger and loss of work, people who live in oil-rich regions are often forced from their homes for these profiting companies:

“A new report, The Human Cost of a Megacity: Forced Evictions of the Urban Poor in Lagos, details repeated forced evictions of the Otodo-Gbame and Ilubirin communities [in Nigeria] carried out since March 2016 without any consultation, adequate notice, compensation or alternative housing being offered to those affected. Some evictees drowned as they fled police gunfire, while at least one was shot dead.” [7] 

Was Nigeria always this way?

The country  known today as Nigeria was once divided into several different regions. Before contact with imperialist Europeans, the communal people of these regions had their own economic systems, where we the people provided the labor needed to feed one another, without the need for profiting capitalists at the very top. Families would rely on the food they grew or the fish they caught, and we maintained the farmlands and the waterways, as we understood that the sustainability of these resources was fundamental to life. We could organize our societies free from the influence of commercialism, giving us an easy connection to the products of our labor. Without oil industries poisoning the land, our bushes were green and our waters were abundant with fish. 

There are at least 250 different documented ethnic groups and tribes in Nigeria today, reminding us of the various cultural communal regions that once existed here. We existed in relative peace with one another and with the ecosystem:

“Separate villages had differences in customs and culture, although there were similarities as well.  Within a specific Igbo community government was often similar to democracy. […] Leadership was not hereditary.  High ranking men who held titles were not considered kings but rather helped run assemblies. Although these men presided over assemblies, everyone had a chance to speak and offer an opinion.  […] Igbo communities traded with each other although the economy was primarily based off of subsistence farming of crops such as yams. […] Hard work was valued so even the wealthiest participated in farming.  […] All of this would change with the arrival of British colonizers and Christian missionaries.” [8]       

The changes that brought on the Nigeria we know today were instigated by the British industrial revolution, an event that would ultimately poison every aspect of human society, regardless of geographic location. Capitalism was on a destructive mission to conquer and colonize, and us Nigerian people were not to be excluded from such damaging goals. We were indoctrinated into the world capitalist orbit, and the corruption, injustices, and constant social disorder it brought on…these problems continue to weigh heavily on us today. 


A Brief History: colonialism, oil, and civil war.

Petroleum production has actually been declining in Nigeria; nonetheless, Nigeria has been a major (typically, top 10) exporter of gas and oil since the 1970s [9]. With petroleum being such a lucrative industry, it may be hard to understand why the country of Nigeria has the highest population of people in extreme poverty—86.9 million (June 2018). To clarify, Nigeria has the highest population of people in extreme poverty, not merely the highestest proportional population. For comparison, India has the second largest population of people in extreme poverty—71.5 million. Yet the overall population of Nigeria at this time (2018) was less than 200 million, while India’s population exceeded 1.3 billion. Proportionally, 46.7% of people in Nigeria lived in extreme poverty in 2018 [10]. Also in 2018, Nigeria’s oil revenue hit $26 billion in only seven months [11]! What is going on here? 

Much of this extreme inequality comes down to rampant corruption within the Nigerian government, a government established after a multitude of military coups and an all-out civil war beginning in the late 1960s. Which, to anyone familiar with US foreign policy and the concept of shock capitalism (see The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein) and the long historical relationship between the US government and foreign military coups, this may be setting off some alarm bells. Does this corruption have anything to do with US-style intervention? Well, in 2012, the Journal of American History (Vol. 99, Issue 1, Pages 155-165) published a piece on the Nigerian Civil War, noting the role of US involvement:

“New evidence reveals that a tax battle waged by U.S. oil companies contributed to the regional and ethnic tensions leading to the outbreak of war. In the prewar oil boom period in Nigeria, U.S. independent oil companies undertook intensive lobbying and propaganda campaigns to convince Nigerians that newly imposed Libyan-style tax laws would force them out of business. In turn, they argued, the regions where they operated, as well as the ethnic groups inhabiting them, would be relegated to perpetual poverty. This campaign thus exacerbated ethnic tensions, falsely heightening the stakes over which the war was to be fought.” [12]

Beyond this, we know from declassified documents that British military forces took interest in the civil war for similar reasons: “our direct interests are trade and investment, including an important stake by Shell/BP in the eastern Region.” Further, Commonwealth Minister George Thomas wrote in August 1967, 

“The sole immediate British interest in Nigeria is that the Nigerian economy should be brought back to a condition in which our substantial trade and investment in the country can be further developed, and particularly so we can regain access to important oil installations.” [13]

Shock capitalism is when companies use “shock” events to push through neoconservative policies or governance that would not normally ever be agreed upon democratically. The lack of political stability during a civil war provided the environment needed to push through a corrupt, highly militant government—particularly, one that would benefit Western oil companies. This needs to be made clear: Western commercial industry, as well as Western military forces, are why the current Nigerian government is corrupt in a way that benefits US and European industry. Under our current capitalist system, regions like this need to exist, making it all the more inappropriate that capitalists frame philanthropy and foreign aid (e.g. more intervention) as the only viable solution to extreme poverty in Africa. 

National Debt and Foreign Aid

Like many countries in the global south, Nigeria is a country being kept in a state of under-development because it benefits global oligarchs, be they American, European, Russian, Chinese, or even Nigerian. Capitalism requires foreign resource and labor extraction (e.g. outward expansion). This requires dependent nation-states, which requires such nation-states lack an independent system of production, so that they must rely on foreign countries. This is often justified further with claims of owing a debt, that is, these nation-states are said to “owe” foreign powers for colonial development and the continued relationship of forced dependence. Typically, paying this “debt” is an insurmountable task, thanks to privatization, deregulation, concessions, etc. From the start, the debt was never meant to be paid off, as is typical of debt in general (see Debt by David Gaeber, as well as the eloquent critique of Graber’s approach in Jacobin by Mike Beggs, or the classic analysis of capitalist economy, Capital by Karl Marx). Rather, debt is an excuse for continued exploitation of labor and resources, effectively enslaving residents of the nation-state into a type of perpetual indentured servitude. 

If capital needs you for labor, they need you alive. If automation or another region provides that labor, they don’t. In the case of Nigeria, exploitation primarily boils down to environmental resource-extraction. It is therefore unsurprising that we see such high rates of mortality here. It’s also worth emphasizing that without socialist reconstruction of Nigeria, poverty, unemployment, and a high death toll will persist.


Call to Action

Considering the failure to adequately distribute resources under a capitalist economic system, socialism is the only truly viable solution here. For our Nigerian masses we need to go beyond fiscal federalism, or the ethnic nationalities’ restructuring agenda driven by acquisitive interests of capitalism (that is, creating new territories of capitalist exploitation). Socialism has the potential to restructure our material existence. What to restructure, if we have a proper understanding of Ernesto Che Guevara and Cabral’s contributions to Humanity, is our ideological and material relations between the few exploiters and the majority exploited—the haves and the have-not!

If socialism is to replace our cruel capitalist system, we need a mass movement. We need the mass mobilization and organization of all suffering people. We need to spread class consciousness and socialist ideas. We cannot rest idly and expect change.  

Thus, we assert, wherever we are, we need to prioritize fighting injustice. We need to remain wary of false liberal solutions that seek only to prolong the viability of capitalism. This requires unity and organisation of the exploited social classes. The more Nigeria and other African nation-states embrace prescriptions of capitalism, the more we can expect economic insecurity,  as well as ethnic and religious divisiveness.

The present challenge is to arouse the consciousness of the masses, of the exploited people. We need to convey the harms of capitalism, and the alternative of socialism. That is, our primary goal must be to teach the working people and the poor masses the connection between their material conditions and the economic system (capitalism) dictating our social and political systems. Ideological posturing is not enough here, we need organization and concrete goals.

In regards to our goal of education, we need to connect the material realities people experience to the political. We, the proletariat of Nigeria—working people, unemployed, students and youth, academics, women, traders, farmers, professionals, etc.—we must unite against this oppressive and anti-nature system. Beyond this, we must have solidarity with the other working classes of the world—workers of the world, unite! 

Unite4Action-Nigeria

Today, our environment has been destroyed from crude oil exploration. We can no longer farm or fish, and we are blocked access to the wealth capitalists “earn” from these crude oil sales that are ultimately destroying our previous ways of life. Our ecosystem in the Niger delta has been destroyed, we are dying from cancerous diseases, and the oppressive nature of this system silences us from speaking out against it. Our hope is that through Unite4Action, we can be given a platform to speak out against the harsh oppression we face. Only through solidarity with one another and fellow workers of the world, can we change this unfair system allowing the very few with extreme wealth to dictate production and distribution. While capitalism is destroying conditions all over the world, conditions are exceptionally dire in Nigeria, as we outlined at the start of this article (e.g. ecological destruction, mass hunger and disease, violent authorities forcing families from their homes, extreme poverty). In Nigeria, our goal is to spread community support for democratic socialist ideas. If you are interested in this initiative, (1) you can support Unite4Action-Nigeria by helping us purchase organizing materials, (2) if you’re in Nigeria and would like to aid with on-the-ground organizing, email contact@unite4action.org, (3) email or comment suggestions/proposals for organizing—we’re in the early stages of building Unite4Action, and we’d love to have more teams involved.

Beyond this initiative by Unite4Action-Nigeria, we’re interested in pushing for socialism in other ways. To contact us about getting involved with Unite4Action (note, we’re open to new ideas!), or to access links to other socialist organizations, see our page LINKS AND MORE, for international political parties like Socialist Resurgence. Solidarity forever, comrades!

Categories
Educational Examples Tasks and Perspectives

Eco-psychology and “green” capitalism.

Eco-psychology deals with the relationship between human beings and the natural world, through the lens of ecological and psychological principles. That is, eco-psychology is a way of comprehending the emotional connection between individual and the natural world. Beyond the individual developing a sustainable lifestyle, it is a remedy for the alienation from nature inherent in capitalist society.

Eco-psychology proposes that the human mind is affected and shaped by the modern social world—this can bond or alienate us from the natural world. In capitalism, there is a disconnect between nature and human society. This is, of course, an incoherent worldview. Climate change and environmental destruction have been caused by exploitation of the natural world and, in turn, the destruction of our physical environment is an existential threat. As the environmental threat grows, the capitalist system become more and more schizophrenic. Rather than discontinuing environmental degradation, rather than restructuring society to be sustainable, capitalism adapts the spectacle of eco-socialism minus the material and emotional substance. The market is being flooded with “green” products, companies like Uber claim to be part of a “sharing economy”, and data-collecting mindfulness/meditation apps are being framed as the solution to alienation. Recuperation has morphed environmentalism into an individualistic consumer-oriented practice, washing it of any systemic political criticism.

Eco-socialism offers a solution to climate change and inequality, but we have to advocate for it. It won’t come about on it’s own. The longer capitalism is left to handle the environmental problems it’s caused, the more it will slide towards the paranoid position of the eco-fascist. A position that ultimately argues that, well climate change can’t hurt us if we’re all already dead. If a system strives for the destruction of all the people in it, then the extinction of the human race isn’t the end so much as it is the grand finale. Is that a contradiction? Sure. It’s also the path we’re on. As the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze once said,

“The death of a social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction; on the contrary, social machines make a habit of feeding on the contradictions they give rise to, on the crises they provoke, on the anxieties they engender, and on the infernal operations they regenerate. Capitalism has learned this, and has ceased doubting itself, while even socialists have abandoned belief in the possibility of capitalism’s natural death by attrition. No one has ever died from contradictions. And the more it breaks down, the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way.”

Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
Categories
Tasks and Perspectives

Global Working Class Unity!

With the global mobilization of the working classes of the world we see growing evidence of global class consciousness. The persistent, yet hidden truth is that the foundation of our societies is built on working class labor. As global class agitation rises and mass organization demands that the workers of the world replace these oppressive and exploitative rulers, it becomes increasingly clear that we need global systemic changes. The old system must be uprooted and replaced with international socialism.

Throughout various periods of history, the proletariat workers have had opportunity to unite and overthrow their oppressive regimes. Yet their attempts were thwarted by docile workers willing to bargain with the ruling classes. These class traitors typically sympathized with their oppressors due to a variety of underhanded attempts by the ruling classes to confuse the workers class interest with their own, primarily through isolation, disorientation, and misdirection. This is often accomplished by increasing the availability of aesthetical aspects of bourgeois life, pushing a false media narrative, and eliminating channels of communication between comrades. For example, the archetypal white American suburb of the 1950s physically and ideologically seperated this so-called “middle class” from other workers. They could view themselves as homeowners, fundamentally different from urban renters. Homeowning pushed them to sympathize with the capital-owning classes, as they were encouraged to conflate personal property with private property (the means of production). Another example is fascistic ideaology that confuses ruling class antagonism with some ethnic, racial, or gender identity. The rulers with their monopoly on the means of production and their growing profits extracted from slavery, wage labor, and manufactured scarcity…this is not the problem, says fascism, it is “the Jews” or “the gypsies”—the mysterious other. Such a misdirection requires social isolation from this other, and a false understanding of one’s own class position.

The oppressors maintain control over the means of production, and subsequently our choices, tastes, and culture. They own and/or control all legitimate sources of news, media, and communication, allowing them to frame degrading material conditions as the fault of an other, and improving material conditions as the result of their own generosity and competence. They mute class consciousness, yet their efforts are losing effectiveness. The global proletariat have an opportunity to evolve this exploitative system if we can ward off false consciousness. With the threat of growing environmental disaster, this becomes increasingly crucial that we spread class consciousness and unite with our fellow proletariat comrades from all over the world. We cannot let ignorance pull workers towards becoming self-destructive class traitors, who protect the ruling capitalist class due to a false understanding of class and their own class position.

Under our current global economic system, ecological collapse is inevitable. The future well-being of humanity and our environment requires change through class consiousness. It require active organization. It requires these things on a global-scale. With that, I assert with urgency, workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose, but your chains.