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LEFT JAB

REVIEWS John Bell

When thieves fall out


Karl Marx, who was a very France that force bosses and
bright fellow, once said governments to backtrack
that capitalists were like a on attempts to drive down
“band of warring brothers”. living standards. In between
They are constantly in we see stand-offs, like the
a no-holds-barred war of Toronto City workers strike
competition to see who can that beat back attempts to rip
grab the biggest market share up their benefits wholesale.
and the juiciest profits. The So more and more the
whole point is to drive each bosses fight among them-
other out of business. Some- selves: over how to get out
times, reading the business of the slump, over how to
section of the paper, I think it deal with climate change,
should come with a parental and so on. Here’s an example
warning for violent language. taking place right before us.
But when the capitalists Recently, the CEO of the
as a group—dare I say it, as Canadian Oil Sands Trust,
a class—are threatened with Jean Coutu, called for people
revolt from below they sud- and industry in the rest of
denly rediscover their family Canada to take extra strides
connections. They will try to cut their carbon emissions
to set aside their competitive so that the tar sands can
animosity and unite to face produce more. Currently, the
their common enemy: us. tar sands projects add up to
I often run into people the dirtiest industrial project
who declare themselves on Earth, and the industry,
“capitalists”. Turns out they abetted by governments in
are usually working people Alberta and Ottawa, wants
who have been convinced, to triple the amount of
whether by the carrot or the greenhouse gases it spews.
stick, to identify with capital- Coutu justifies the
ism. Real capitalists own do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do plan
Joya exposes lies behind Afghanistan occupation and control the resources
(including our labour),
thus: “What we have to do
is prioritize what is most
the factories that convert important to the economy
Book H A Woman Among Warlords H Written by Malalai Joya resources into commodities
and the service networks that
and our way of life. At the
end of the day I don’t think
Reviewed by Paul Stevenson distribute the commodities.
And they almost never trawl
there is a single element of
our economy that is more
in the comments section important than energy.”
Malalai Joya’s new book, A Woman misery suffered by Afghans—mainly and determining our own future.” of on-line news groups. When Coutu says “energy”,
Among Warlords: The Extraordinary women—is at times so brutal that it is People often defend the occupation he means the dirtiest, least-
Life of an Afghan Woman who Dares difficult to read. But far from being a de- saying that if foreign troops leave, Af- Exposed economical-to-produce oil on
to Speak Out is a sharp attack on featist story, Joya is able to show, with ghanistan will descend into civil war. The economic convulsions of the planet: synthetic crude.
the war in afghanistan and a rallying repeated examples, how the people of Joya counters this argument saying, the past year have exposed, Bosses of all the other in-
cry for NatO troops to be sent home. Afghanistan continue to resist these “This prospect is raised by people who as nothing has in my lifetime, dustries that Coutu expects to
She does a fantastic job countering attacks. ignore the vicious conflict and humani- the weakness of capitalism. bite the bullet are up in arms.
the lies of the “war on terror” as tarian disaster that is already occurring. It can be summed up in a An open letter signed by
nothing more than “dust in the eyes Security The longer the foreign troops stay in Af- quote from either Roman Dow Chemical Canada, Du-
of the world”. She relates a story of how, just after the ghanistan ...the worse the eventual civil historian Plutarch’s Life of Pont Canada, Catalyst Paper
The book is part biography and part US invasion, she met with represent- war will be. The terrible civil war that Alexander or the bad guy Corp., Direct Energy, Rio
political analysis. It catalogues the dec- atives of the new government looking followed the Soviet withdrawal certainly from Die Hard, take your Tinto PLC, the Royal Bank,
ades of war and corruption forced on the for support in opening a clinic in Farah could never justify, after the fact, the de- pick: “When Alexander saw the TD Bank and others calls
Afghan people by the major powers in- province. The governor’s representative, struction and death caused by that dec- the breadth of his domain, for a national cap-and-trade
tent on controlling Central Asia. knowing that Joya stood against the war- ade-long occupation.” he wept for there were no system that treats all the
She begins with her birth, just three lords, was angry about the clinic and told At the end of the book she speaks more worlds to conquer.” warring brothers equally.
days before the coup in 1978: “Within her that he could “not guarantee her se- to the people of the West and asks us Capitalism has truly en- A crack in the solidarity of
a year we were an occupied country, and curity” if the clinic opened. to keep up the pressure to end the war. veloped the globe; there are the capitalist class is a weak-
since then war is all we Afghans have Feeling frustrated and disillusioned “Please understand that for us in Af- no more markets to conquer, ness to be taken advantage
ever known.” She describes her early life she left and told local supporters about ghanistan, seeing that people all over no more great populations of. When thieves fall out
in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan and the conversation. “The people will guar- the world are willing to stand publicly to draw into its grinder. For it is easier to catch them.
details the resistance against the warlords antee your security”, was the response in solidarity with us in our hour of need a system that must expand– How should workers and
who ran the country during the years of from the crowd. This is an important has great moral value... Never underesti- addicted to growth for its environmentalists respond?
the civil war, and also against the Taliban message woven through the book: that mate the importance of the message your own sake and not for the The risk is that we will
from 1996 until 2001, when she ran clan- the Afghan people are the solution to actions can send.” sake of satisfying human line up behind the chemical
destine schools for girls in Herat. the crisis there if they can live without This book is an indispensable read need–this is the ultimate corporations, et al, because
But the bulk of her anger is pointed the meddling of warlords and foreign for anyone wishing to go beyond hol- crisis. Capitalism weeps Coutu’s position is so
towards the current warlord-led gov- powers. low rhetoric to a real understanding of even as it turns in on itself. obviously unfair. Remember,
ernment and the NATO occupation that She says: “We are capable of defending the hardships facing the Afghan people In some ways, the owners the chemical, mining and
supports it. Her descriptions of the daily our independence, governing ourselves under the brutal NATO occupation. of capital have never been forestry industries have been
more antagonistic. The great screwing the environment
Unravelling Capitalism a necessary read wave of hostile takeovers
and mergers of the past
forever. It’s a bit rich to see
them trying to take the high

for understanding capitalist crisis decade only exacerbated


the problem. Too many of
those deals were done with
road now. But more than
that, the cap-and-trade option
they tout will be equally
Book H Unravelling Capitalism H Written by Joseph Choonara credit cards or Ponzi scheme
monopoly money. Iconic
ineffective dealing with the
climate change crisis. It
Reviewed by Peter Hogarth companies go under or hang
by a thread thanks to massive
will allow the corporations
to buy the right to pollute,
the current economic crisis is italism: A Guide to Marxist Political Marxist theory to the current econom- state bailouts, no longer com- and pass the costs down to
wreaking havoc across the world, Economy serves as an extremely useful ic crisis. Included in this accessible and petitive but “too big to fail”. consumers and workers.
throwing people out onto the contribution. It makes sense of the wave easy-to-follow book are analyses of con- At the same time, bosses
streets, gutting pensions and forcing of foreclosures, bankruptcies, bailouts, temporary issues, such as the exploita- all agree on one thing: they Solutions
workers and the poor to bear the strikes, and attacks on workers and pen- tion of public workers, the increasing want us, the workers, to It is our job to expose the
brunt of the pain of systemic and sions that have become regular features centralization of capital, the role that pay for their problem. self-serving bankruptcy of
massive restructuring. in daily news reports. credit and stocks and bonds and other If they can’t profit from both plans, to drive a wedge
There is a growing public sentiment forms of speculative investment or “fic- expanding outward, they into the crack in their façade.
against the greed and massive profi- Theory titious capital” play in extending the sys- can try to keep afloat by We need to demand real
teering that are at the source of capital- Choonara provides an incredibly access- tem beyond its limits and exacerbating deepening our misery. binding caps on all industry,
ism’s latest crisis. However, a solid an- ible and concise introduction to Karl crisis, and the oxymoron that is “ethic- While the great class of period. We need an end to
alysis of the precise root of the system’s Marx’s political economic theories. He al capitalism”. people who are forced to tar sands tax breaks, and any
failure has been missing in the public dis- explains theories that are critical to under- Unravelling Capitalism is essential sell their labour for a wage tax breaks to corporations
course; a discourse that has been quite standing how economics actually works, reading for everyone struggling to make are far from storming the that pollute. That adds up to
critical of the economic system that has such as living and dead labour, the labour sense of the uncertainty and barbarity of modern day equivalent of billions of dollars to invest
thrown the world into chaos. theory of value, Marx’s concept of alien- the capitalist system and the crises which the Bastille, we are also far in alternative energy and
The current atmosphere of open criti- ation, accumulation, and the tendency for routinely immiserate workers. The book from knuckling under. Here conservation programs now.
cism of capitalism makes necessary a the rate of profit to fall. The author also succinctly explains what are often intimi- we see a defeat, as when It is those forward thinking
work to demystify the systematic ways delves into Marxist conceptions of im- dating economic theories, providing an autoworkers allow their programs that will create
in which capital acts that create crises, perialism and the way the uneven and incredibly valuable handbook to dissect wages and pensions to be the good jobs of the future.
while also pointing out the dead-end that combined development of global cap- the global economic crisis and highlight gutted in return for the in- When one or the other of
government intervention serves in prop- italism leads to epic violence. the need to replace the capitalist system creasingly nebulous promise the warring brothers comes
ping up an economic system which has However, the most valuable part of with something nicer—with a more just of continued employment. to call for our support—and
disorder and chaos at its very core. Unravelling Capitalism is that Choon- political economy based on equity and There we see a victory, as they will—we need to say:
Joseph Choonara’s Unravelling Cap- ara applies historical understanding of human need. with massive strikes and “A pox on both your houses.
protests in Greece and We have our own agenda.”
November 2009 Socialist Worker 9
GLOBAL CLIMATE
PROTESTS DEMAND
STRONG ACTION
by JOhN BeLL

First the good news: the


vast majority of Canadians
want to see their govern-
ment take stronger action
to reduce carbon emissions
that cause global warming.
According to a Canadian
Press Harris-Decima poll,
two-thirds of respondents say
that rich countries like Canada
and the US should be required
to set “higher and harder tar-
gets” for greenhouse gas emis-
sions than developing econ-
omies like China and India. It
is the developed nations that
have created the crisis, so it
should be up to them to lead
the way in solving it.
Canadians are in sync with
people all over the world in
demanding serious climate
change action. October 24 was
an international day of action
to raise awareness on the issue,
organized under the banner of
350.org.
Neither the name nor the
timing of the event was arbi-
trary. The number 350 refers
to 350 parts per million, which
represents the upper safe limit October 24 was the most nations, that emerging econ- policies—at the last two annu- Three times in recent weeks, the issues, much media cover-
of carbon in the atmosphere if extensive, coordinated politic- omies like China and India al climate summits. It is also Greenpeace activists have tar- age aimed at discrediting the
we hope to keep temperatures al event in human history and should shoulder the blame, no wonder that representatives geted tar sands operations protesters because a few of
from rising to catastrophic lev- a brief look at the event web- and that Canada not be forced of 130 nations walked out on for peaceful civil disobedi- them had links to environ-
els. And the date was chosen site (www.350.org) puts to rest to produce a plan showing a presentation by the Canadian ence actions. They succeeded mental groups or were NDP
to put pressure on foot-drag- the myth that climate change how it will achieve even an- delegate at pre-Copenhagen in temporarily shutting down members.
ging politicians in the lead up is a concern only for middle- emic Tory reduction targets. discussions in Bangkok early polluting facilities, and won Pointing the finger at the
to crucial climate treaty nego- class whites. And the majority of Michael in October. headlines around the world fo- sham democracy played out in
tiations to take place in Copen- Now the bad news: the Ignatieff’s Liberal MPs voted At the very centre of Can- cusing attention and anger on parliament by partisan heck-
hagen in December. Harper Tory government does with the Tories to block pas- ada’s environmental crimes Harper’s favourite industry. ling and posturing, one young
On the day over 5,200 not care what the Canadian sage of Bill C-311, an NDP- is the Alberta Tar Sands. This The response of Alberta’s protester told the press, “It
events took place in 181 majority wants. Both Harper proposed law that would force is the dirtiest industrial mega- Tories was to threaten to seemed like we were not in-
countries—from public ral- and his Environment Minis- the government to set science- project on the planet. It is sole- use anti-terror laws against terrupting anything.”
lies and teach-ins to street the- ter, Jim Prentice have publicly based, hard targets for carbon ly responsible for the rapid rise activists. As long as parliament con-
atre events. More than 100 of stated it is “unrealistic” to ex- reduction. in Canada’s greenhouse gas In Ottawa, young climate tinues to ignore the will of the
those events happened in Can- pect any new treaty. No won- No wonder Canada has been emissions, even as our Kyoto activists in the gallery dis- majority, and the health of the
ada, highlighted by thousands der: Canadian representatives voted the “Colossal Fossil”— commitments were supposed rupted Parliament to pro- planet, peaceful civil disobedi-
rallying in Ottawa’s Parlia- are demanding that Canada be the nation with the worst en- to reduce them. And it has be- test Tory and Liberal collu- ence against climate terrorists
ment Hill and Toronto’s prov- allowed to make smaller emis- vironmental record coupled come a specific target for pro- sion to block passage of Bill like the Tories is completely
incial legislature. sion cuts than other developed with the worst government tests at home and abroad. C-311. Rather than focus on justified—and needed.

Never miss Afghan MP speaks out against occupation


an issue.
by PaUL SteVeNSON side of the NatO supported rulers of the country. grows daily. Joya brings a
Mail in this form with a government because she those warlords have unique and vital contribu-
cheque or money order Malalai Joya will be on a is outspoken about the brought even more pain tion to the discussion of
made payable to speaking tour of Canada crimes that have been to the people. Lawless- why foreign troops need to
“Socialist Worker”. from November 14 to 28. committed by the warlords. ness is the norm in most be removed. her under-
Prices per year this comes at a particu- During the course of the of the country, while the standing of afghan history
(CAD dollars): larly important time for civil war in afghanistan— warlords act with impunity. is crucial for anyone who
Regular subscription: $30 the anti-war movement, after the russian with- the civil war was also the thinks that the folly of the
Institutions, First Class on the eve of a possible drawal and before the beginning of the erosion NatO occupation must
delivery and U.S.: $50 troop extension and with taliban takeover—the of women’s rights. the continue.
Other international: $60 more and more Canadians capital, Kabul, was the site warlords brought in most In her new book, A
opposing the mission. of massive bloodshed as of the anti-woman laws Woman Among Warlords:
Joya has been called various factions fought for that exist today. the The Extraordinary Life of
Name: the bravest woman in control. Kabul, which had notorious department of an Afghan Woman who
afghanistan for speaking largely remained intact dur- vice and virtue, a wing of Dares to Speak Out, Joya
Address: out against the brutality of ing the russian occupation law enforcement generally summarizes the lessons
the drug lords and warlords was destroyed. 65,000 ascribed to the taliban, of history for any would-be
Phone: who dominate the afghan people were killed and was actually brought in invaders:
parliament. her stance has thousands more were some during the civil war. “Our history teaches
E-mail: resulted in five assas- tortured and maimed. the fact that NatO that if you betray our
sination attempts over the those factions became continues to bomb afghans people and try to occupy
Mail to: Socialist Worker, PO Box 339 past few years, but her the proxy army for the US to extend the control of our country by force of
Station E, Toronto, ON Canada, M6H 4E3 notoriety and influence has during the 2001 invasion the drug lords is one of the arms you will meet our
Phone: 416.972.6391 / E-mail: reports@socialist.ca increased over that time. and have since entrenched main reasons why the re- resistance and you will
She has been a thorn in the themselves as the new sistance to the occupation fail.”