The deafening silence of intellectuals in the face of growing global conflicts

March 16th, 2023


“Silence is nothing short of complicity with the masters of war,” writes Portuguese scholar Boaventura de Sousa Santos

Intellectuals do not have a monopoly on culture, on values, or on truth, much less on the meanings attributed to any one of these “domains of the spirit,” as they used to be termed. But intellectuals should also not shrink from denouncing what they see as destructive of culture, values, and truth, notably when such destruction claims to be carried out in the name of these “domains of spirit.” Intellectuals are not to refrain from saluting the sun before daybreak, but neither should they refrain from warning against the clouds ominously gathering in the sky before nightfall, preventing daylight from being enjoyed.

Europe is witnessing an alarming (re)emergence of two realities that are destructive of the “domains of the spirit”: the destruction of democracy, brought about by the growth of political forces of the far right; and the destruction of peace, brought about by the naturalization of war. Both destructions are legitimized by the very values each of them aims to destroy: fascism is promoted in the name of democracy; war is promoted in the name of peace. All of this has become possible because the political initiative and presence in the media are being relinquished to conservative forces on the right and far right. Social protection measures aimed at making people feel both in their pockets and their daily existence that democracy is better than dictatorship are becoming ever more rare precisely because of the costs of the war in Ukraine and because the economic sanctions against the “enemy,” which supposedly should be hurting their intended target, are in fact hurting above all the European people whose governments have allied themselves with the US The destruction of peace and democracy is mostly affected by the unequal and parallel drawing of two circles of warranted freedoms, i.e., freedoms of expression and freedoms of action endorsed by the political and media powers that be. The circle of freedoms warranted in the case of progressive positions advocating for just and durable peace and more inclusive democracy is getting smaller and smaller, while the circle of freedoms warranted in the case of conservative positions advocating for war and fascist polarization together with neoliberal economic inequality does not cease to grow. Progressive commentators are increasingly absent from the major media outlets, while every week conservative ones present us with page after page of staggering mediocrity.

Let us look at some of the main symptoms of this vast process currently underway:

1) The information war over the Russia-Ukraine conflict has so taken hold of published opinion that even commentators with a modicum of conservative common sense have submitted to it with sickening subservience. Here’s one example among many from the European corporate media: during his weekly appearance on a Portuguese TV channel (SIC, January 29, 2023), Luís Marques Mendes, a well-known commentator, usually a voice of common sense within the conservative camp, said something to this effect: “Ukraine has to win the war, because if it doesn’t, Russia will invade other European countries.” This is pretty much what American television viewers hear from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on a daily basis. Where does such an absurd idea come from, if not from an overdose of misinformation? Have they forgotten that post-Soviet Russia sought to join NATO and the EU but was rebuffed, and that, contrary to what had been promised to the former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, NATO expansion on Russia’s borders may constitute a legitimate defense concern on the part of Russia, even if the invasion of Ukraine is indeed illegal, as I myself repeatedly denounced from day one? Don’t they know that it was the US and the United Kingdom who boycotted the first peace negotiations shortly after the war broke out? Have the commentators not considered, even for a moment, that a nuclear power that finds itself faced with the possibility of defeat in a conventional conflict might resort to using its nuclear weapons, which in turn could lead to nuclear catastrophe? Don’t they see that two nationalisms, one Ukrainian, and the other Russian, are being exploited in the war in Ukraine to force Europe into total dependence on the US and to stop the expansion of China, the country with which the US is really at war? Don’t the commentators realize that today’s Ukraine is tomorrow’s Taiwan? Curiously enough, no details are ever offered, in the midst of all this ventriloquistic propaganda fever, regarding what a defeat of Russia will mean; will it lead to the ousting of Russian President Vladimir Putin or to the balkanizing of Russia?

2) The anti-communist ideology that dominated the Western world until the 1990s is being surreptitiously recycled to promote anti-Russian hatred to the point of hysteria, even though it is a known fact that Putin is an autocratic leader, a friend of the European right and far right. Russian artists, musicians, and athletes are being banned from events, even as courses on Russian culture and literature—which are no less European than French literature and culture—are being terminated. In the wake of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, with its strategy of humiliating Germany after its loss during World War I, German writers were barred from attending the first meeting of the annual PEN Congress, held in May 1923. The only dissenting voice was that of Romain Rolland, who won the 1915 Nobel Prize for Literature. Despite everything he had written against the war and German war crimes in particular, Rolland had the courage to say, “in the name of intellectual universalism”: “I will not subject my thinking to the tyrannical and demented fluctuations of politics.”

People’s Dispatch for more

¡Kaypimi kanchik! – Ecuador’s indigenous movement versus the cost-of-living crisis

March 16th, 2023


IMAGE/Eduardo de Leon Herencia

The sun had barely risen over the slopes of Cotopaxi volcano on the morning of 19 June 2022 when the Ecuadorian police stormed the house of Leonidas Iza, the director of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in Quito, and arrested him. Iza was held for 24 hours on charges of ‘presumed crimes’.

Less than 24 hours before, Ecuador’s powerful social movements had taken to the streets in a general strike, demanding the government lower petrol prices and respect the agreements reached following a lethal uprising in October 2019. After Iza’s detention, the strike escalated rapidly.

This level of social mobilisation is not new for CONAIE or for Ecuador. Regionally, the intensity of Ecuador’s street demonstrations is legendary. In the 1990s, they toppled three presidents, and this June, the country’s assembly fell just 12 votes short of the 92 needed to oust current president Guillermo Lasso, a former banker elected in 2021.

As the strike intensified, so did the state’s repressive response. On 19 June, the security forces took over the emblematic House of Culture, an important symbolic centre of operations for the country’s indigenous movement, and converted it into barracks. The move sparked disgust: this kind of intervention had not been seen since the dictatorships of the 1970s. According to el mapeo de la repressión, a tool created by various social organisations to chart state repression, 1,500 people were injured, 1,300 arrested and eight killed over the 18 days the protests lasted.

Internal enemies?

The latest spiral of violence must be understood in the context of the events of October 2019. That uprising was itself triggered by a decree that increased fuel prices and squeezed the incomes of ordinary Ecuadorians. The 2019 protests left eleven people dead and several indigenous leaders and trade unionists faced court cases. The most recent waves of unrest have led to the increased criminalisation of protests and social movements.

‘From 2019 onwards, the government started to create a new internal enemy,’ says Jorge Nuñez, an anthropologist who specialises in security. ‘Basically what they do is recycle 1970s anti-communist ideology… that consists of the security forces believing that they’re under threat from internal actors such as urban guerrillas. In this case, the current government has insisted on linking the indigenous movement with drug trafficking and accusing them of being terrorists.’

Red Pepper for more

U.S. court tosses Israel Lobby lawsuit against U.S. scholars

March 16th, 2023


A U.S. court’s ruling sends a clear message to Israel organizations intent on suppressing advocacy for Palestinian rights IMAGE/Alejandro Alvarez/SIPA USA

A court in Washington, D.C., has entirely dismissed a lawsuit against the American Studies Association over its support of an academic boycott of Israel.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 2016 by Israel advocates, has now failed three separate times in court – a significant defeat for the Israel lobby’s attempt to punish scholars who back Palestinian rights.

“The court found that the claims primarily arose from advocacy on an issue of public interest and were not likely to succeed,” stated the Center for Constitutional Rights.

In a 2013 referendum, members of the American Studies Association overwhelmingly endorsed an academic boycott of Israel.

The vote followed an endorsement of the boycott by the association’s governing body.

Declaring the boycott an ethical stance, the ASA said that it “represents a principle of solidarity with scholars and students deprived of their academic freedom and an aspiration to enlarge that freedom for all, including Palestinians.”

Israel advocates within the association, however, jumped into action to persecute colleagues who dared to criticize Israel.

Using a tactic known as lawfare, in which Israel lobby groups use legal means to harass and silence supporters of Palestinian rights, the plaintiffs claimed that the boycott resolution was brought by “insurgents” within the association who attempted to “subvert and change the ASA’s purpose” into a political advocacy organization.

The plaintiffs alleged that a “cabal” of leaders from the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) surreptitiously took over the ASA and used their positions on its executive committee and national council to foist the boycott resolution on the association’s unsuspecting membership, misspending ASA money in the process.

A federal court threw out a key claim in the lawsuit in 2017, ruling that the ASA’s endorsement of the boycott was not contrary to the association’s charter.

Toward Freedom for more

Eight contradictions of the imperialist ‘rules-based order’: The tenth newsletter (2023)

March 15th, 2023


Victor Ehikhamenor (Nigeria), Lagos Hide and Seek, 2014.

Dear friends,

Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has now moved the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it has been to the symbolic time of the annihilation of humanity and the Earth since 1947. This is alarming, which is why leaders in the Global South have been making the case to halt the warmongering over Ukraine and against China. As Namibia’s Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, ‘We are promoting a peaceful resolution of that conflict so that the entire world and all the resources of the world can be focused on improving the conditions of people around the world instead of being spent on acquiring weapons, killing people, and actually creating hostilities’.

In line with the alarm from the Doomsday Clock and assertions from people such as Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, the rest of this newsletter features a new text called Eight Contradictions in the Imperialist ‘Rules-Based Order’ (which you can download as a PDF here). It was drafted by Kyeretwie Opoku (the convenor of the Socialist Movement of Ghana), Manuel Bertoldi (Patria Grande /Federación Rural para la producción y el arraigo), Deby Veneziale (senior fellow, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research), and me, with inputs from senior political leaders and intellectuals from across the world. We are offering this text as an invitation to a dialogue. We hope that you will read, circulate, and discuss it.

We are now entering a qualitatively new phase of world history. Significant global changes have emerged in the years since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. This can be seen in a new phase of imperialism and changes in the particularities of eight contradictions.

1. The contradiction between moribund imperialism and an emerging successful socialism led by China.

This contradiction has intensified because of the peaceful rise of socialism with Chinese characteristics. For the first time in 500 years, the Atlantic imperialist powers are confronted by a large, non-white economic power that can compete with them. This became clear in 2013 when China’s GDP in purchasing power parity (PPP) overtook that of the United States. China accomplished this in a much shorter period than the West, with a significantly larger population and without colonies, enslaving others, or military conquest. Whilst China stands for peaceful relations, the US has become increasingly bellicose.

The US has led the imperialist camp since World War II. Post-Angela Merkel and with the advent of the Ukraine military operation, the US strategically subordinated dominant sections of the European and Japanese bourgeoisie. This has resulted in weakening intra-imperialist contradictions. The US first permitted and then demanded that both Japan (the third-largest economy in the world) and Germany (the fourth-largest economy) – two fascist powers during World War II – greatly increase their military expenditure. The result has been the ending of Europe’s economic relationship with Russia, damage to the European economy, and economic and political benefits for the US. Despite the capitulation of most of Europe’s political elite to full US subordination, some large sections of German capital are heavily dependent on trade with China, much more than on their US counterparts. The US, however, is now pressuring Europe to downgrade its ties to China.

More importantly, China and the socialist camp now face an even more dangerous entity: the consolidated structure of the Triad (the United States, Europe, and Japan). The US’s growing internal social decay should not mask the near absolute unity of its political elite on foreign policy. We are witnessing the bourgeoisie placing its political and military interests over its short-term economic interests.

The centre of the world economy is shifting, with Russia and the Global South (including China) now accounting for 65% of the world’s GDP (measured in PPP). From 1950 until the present, the US share of the global GDP (in PPP) has fallen from 27% to 15%. The growth of the US’s GDP has also been declining for more than five decades and has now fallen to only around 2% per year. It has no large new markets in which to expand. The West suffers from an ongoing general crisis of capitalism as well as the consequences of the long-term tendency of the rate of profit to decline.

Maksud Mirmuhamedov (Tajikistan), Hearth, 2020.

2. The contradiction between the ruling classes of the narrow band of imperialist G7 countries and the political and economic elite of capitalist countries in the Global South.

This relationship has undergone a major change from the heydays of the 1990s and the height of US unilateral power and arrogance. Today, there are growing cracks in the alliance between the G7 and Global South power elites. Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, India’s largest billionaires, need oil and coal from Russia. The far-right Modi-led government represents India’s monopoly bourgeoisie. Thus, the Indian foreign minister now makes occasional statements against US hegemony in finance, sanctions, and other areas. The West does not have the economic and political ability to always provide what power elites in India, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey need. This contradiction, however, has not sharpened to the degree that it can be a focal point of other contradictions, unlike the contradiction between socialist China and the US-led G7 bloc.

TriContinental for more

Scientists are growing mini brains in the lab. Are they … conscious?

March 15th, 2023


IMAGE/Roger Harris/Science Photo Library/Getty Image

Since 2013, when the first “mini brain” was grown inside a test tube in order to study a genetic disorder, scientists all over the world have been mad at work. They have been mixing and matching lumps of tissue derived from human embryonic stem cells, so as to study brain development and the mechanics of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and epileptic encephalopathies, or even to assess the toxicity of a drug in the human body, as Popular Mechanics reported in 2020. Dystopian though it may sound, no one can guarantee with certainty that these miniature brains—known as cerebral organoids or brain organoids in neuroscience parlance–will not morph into conscious beings at some point in the near or distant future.

In August of 2021, researchers at the University Hospital Düsseldorf and other institutions took these gooey human-brain blobs and coaxed them into forming early versions of eyes. Now, an ambitious Microsoft-funded project at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), is studying the neural activity in hundreds of miniature brains the size of sesame seeds grown inside Petri dishes, with the aim of understanding brain development and evolution, and helping those suffering from neurological conditions.

“Yet, consciousness in the brain organoid will likely be a consequence of this process,” says Alysson Muotri, a professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UCSD who spearheads the project—not now, he says, but eventually as science progresses.

Growing Brain Organoids

These organoids start off as single stem cells grown in nutrient-filled solutions. Over time, they undergo various differentiation processes until they develop into the tiny brains we see. Don’t be fooled by appearances though. Petri-dish brains may be minuscule, no more than a few millimeters long with only 2.5 million neurons, versus the average human brain which is about 16 to 17 centimeters long and contains a whopping 100 billion neurons. But this is what your own brain more or less looked like when you were a fetus, says Muotri.

Polpular Mechanics for more

Tech companies are getting into neuroscience. Should we worry?

March 15th, 2023


IMAGE/Space Daily/Duck Duck Go

Consumer-facing neurotechnology could make computers more accessible — and pose a new kind of threat to data privacy.

The past few decades of neuroscience research have produced a wide array of technologies capable of measuring human brain activity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging, implanted electrode systems, and electroencephalograms, or EEGs, among other techniques, have helped researchers better understand how our brains respond to and control our bodies’ interactions with the world around us.

Now some of these technologies — most notably, EEG — have broken out of the lab and into the consumer market. The earliest of these consumer-facing neurotechnology devices, relatively simple systems that measured electrical signals conducted across the skull and scalp, were marketed mostly as focus trainers or meditation aids to so-called “biohackers” seeking to better themselves through technology. However, tech industry giants have lately taken notice, and they are exploring inventive new ways to make use of the inner electrical conversations in our brains.

In 2019, Meta, then still known as Facebook, paid nearly $1 billion to purchase CTRL-Labs, a startup whose flagship product was a wristband that detects neuromotor signals, allowing the wearer to manipulate a computer system using a range of forearm, hand, and finger movements. Last year, Snap, the parent company managing Snapchat, spent an undisclosed sum to acquire NextMind, whose headset uses EEG technology to let a user “push a virtual button simply by focusing on it.” Even Valve, the video game publisher that manages the massive Steam video game store, has partnered with brain-computer interface developer OpenBCI, with an eye toward integrating brain-computer interfaces into virtual reality headsets.

The promise of these systems is to give users a new, potentially more widely accessible way to control computers — an alternative to standard interfaces such as mouses, handheld controllers, and touchscreens. What is sure to appeal to tech industry behemoths, however, are the troves of real-time data that these devices collect about a person’s neuronal activity. This latest revolution in neurotech could conceivably yield a windfall for companies like Meta and Snap, which have built their business models around data-driven advertising. For the average consumer, however, it may portend a new kind of threat to data privacy — one that regulators seem woefully unprepared to corral.

Companies like Meta and Snap make substantial profits by collecting data on users’ web activity, using those data to identify highly specific target demographics for advertising clients, and selling access to user information to third-party businesses and researchers. A key tenet of this model is the idea that, with enough information about individuals and their habits, developers can divine, with fine-tooth specificity, how a certain person will respond to certain advertisements. To that end, companies might use feedback surveys to try to determine whether or not an ad was successful, or track people’s online interactions with ads through measures such as clickthrough rates or the time a person spends hovering their mouse pointer over a given image or video.

Undark for more

Envisioning a post capitalism worth striving for

March 14th, 2023


Michael Albert (left) and Yanis Varoufakis

An ongoing discussion/debate between Michael Albert and Yanis Varoufakis composed of separately written roughly 500 word contributions

  1. Participatory Postcapitalist Vision – Michael Albert, 30th October 2021

For me, the defining institutions of capitalism are private ownership of productive assets; authoritarian control of workplaces; production for profit; a corporate division of labor wherein empowered employees dominate disempowered employees; remuneration for property, power, and/or output; and allocation by markets and/or central planning.

To my eyes, these capitalist institutions produce obscene inequity, vile anti-sociality, and soul crushing indignity. They impose stupefying, empathy destroying, democracy defiling, and world-ravaging economic conditions.

To my mind, this poses a paramount question. What new post capitalist economic features are essential to ensure that our future selves will freely determine the details of their future lives with dignity, equity, and social solidarity? Here are the defining features participatory economics proposes:

  • A new conception of the natural and built workplaces, tools, and resources that we use to produce society’s goods and services. We call this a “Productive Commons,” and we propose it to replace private ownership of productive assets.
  • Workers and consumers workplace and neighborhood councils (and industry and regional federations of councils) that we use to convey to all a say over economic decisions proportional to the extent those decisions affect them. We call this “council self management,” and we propose it to replace authoritarian control of production and consumption.
  • Jobs composed of tasks that together provide each worker a manageable mix of responsibilities which convey by their daily accomplishment average “empowerment effects.” We call this mix “balanced job complexes,” and we propose it to replace a corporate division of labor that elevates an empowered coordinator class above a disempowered working class.
  • Equitable remuneration for how long, how hard, and the onerousness of the conditions under which we do socially valued work. We call this “equitable remuneration,” and we propose it to replace remuneration for property, power, and/or output.
  • And decentralized cooperative self-managed negotiation of production and consumption in light of personal, social, and environmental costs and benefits. We call this “participatory planning,” and we propose it to replace markets and/or central planning.

Advocates, myself included, claim that these five institutional aims, which we of course expect to see refined by future experience and augmented by diverse contextual policies and features that emerge from future practice, can together establish a classless, self managing, sustainable, and even aesthetic post capitalist economy that serves the fulfillment and development of all people.

Some advocates call this “participatory economics.” Some call it “participatory socialism.” But all its advocates, myself included, claim that these five proposed defining institutions can together serve as a flexible visionary scaffold we can refine and build on to help us traverse the road to winning a post capitalist economic vision. More, we claim that such participatory vision can inspire hope and sustain commitment. It can provide orientation to help us plant the seeds of the future in the present, win immediate gains in non-reformist ways, and traverse a trajectory of changes that avoids winding up other than where we wish to arrive.

Do we really want negotiations to replace markets and hierarchies? Yanis Varoufakis, 4th December 2021

At the very heart of a heartless (and distinctly irrational) capitalist world lies the curious idea that the crushing majority who work in the corporations do not own them while the minuscule minority who own them can very easily not even know where they are located, let alone work in them. This gross asymmetry is the source of exorbitant power in the hands of the few to wreck the lives of the many, as well as of the planet. And it is not just a matter of unfairness. It is more a matter of wholesale alienation, as even the capitalists are condemned to live like sad bastards resembling guinea pigs running faster and faster on a treadmill, going nowhere.

So, it is a great relief that, here, I do not to have to argue about the need to terminate capitalism. That Michael and I are embarking from a common belief that capitalism must end in order to debate the type of feasible postcapitalism we want.

Michael traces the source of illiberty, inequality and inefficiency in the private ownership of productive means, which lies behind the elevation of profit to the only motive and begets the soul-crushing division of labour within a company as well as within society at large. Spot on! He is also right to propose a ‘productive commons’ and to point to the importance of a decentralised system of decision-making (extending beyond the workplace to the community, the neighbourhood etc.). Lastly, I agree wholeheartedly with the principle of participatory planning as a replacement of the power of bosses (capitalists or any type of ‘coordinator class’) to decide “who does what to whom”, to quote Lenin’s famous words.

But here begin our differences. Michael employs two words that ring alarm bells in my head: “equitable”, which he links to the remuneration of work (especially of ugly or dirty tasks); and “negotiation”, which he proposes as the basis for consumers and producers to decide, together, what must be produced and in what quality/quantity. My alarm is due to a deep conviction that both words are wolves in sheep’s clothing, hiding the prospect of new forms of domination and oppression.

Take “equitable”. Who decides what it is fair to pay you to go down the sewers, to maintain them? I suppose the answer is: the collective. Does the collective have the right to specify that you must go down the sewers for that wage without your consent? I hope not. But, if your consent is required, then the wage setting is not much different to a market mechanism, where the collective is your employer.

Take “negotiation”. This implies consensus. Which implies huge social pressure on a dissident to acquiesce to the majority’s view; e.g., to their rejection of a weird but potentially wonderful idea that the majority cannot wrap its mind around.

Personally speaking, I find suffocating the prospect of having to reach via negotiation a common understanding of what I must do and of what an equitable reward is for me to do it.

Before I suggest an alternative to negotiations, I felt the need to express, early on, this feeling of suffocation. And to ask our readers: Am I alone in feeling that authentic freedom requires not just the end of capitalism but also a degree of autonomy from the collective?

Z Network for more

Can Toronto help Canada end casteism in the classroom?

March 14th, 2023


People holding up messages against caste discrimination during a Seattle City Council meeting in February where the practice was recognised as illegal. On March 8, 2023, Toronto’s school board passed a similar measure, the first of its kind in Canada PHOTO/John Froschauer/AP

On March 8, 2023, the Toronto District School Board ( TDSB) made history by passing the first ever resolution in Canadian legislative history accepting the reality of caste discrimination and vowing to combat it. The resolution was introduced by board trustee Yalini Rajakulasingam and represents a profound acknowledgement by Canada’s largest school board of the suffering of caste-oppressed parents.

As a Dalit in Canada, I am relieved that the pain of my people will finally be recognised in Toronto. The TDSB will now ask the Ontario Province Human Rights Commission to “provide a framework” to address caste discrimination in public education.

This historic move now positions Dalit Canadians to break a long silence that has enveloped the issue of caste. Ontario could become the first province in Canada to recognise caste discrimination. To me, and every caste-oppressed Canadian like me, this really matters. That this comes just weeks after the Seattle City Council in the United States embraced similar legislation gives me even more hope that the days when caste discrimination could be ignored in North America are coming to an end.

Caste negatively affects more than 1.9 billion people worldwide, including 2.5 million South Asian Canadians, crippling our quality of life. It determines who and where we worship, where we live, our choices and advancement in education and career, even personal relationships — in essence our entire lives.

Dalits, who sit at the bottom of this hierarchy, are branded “untouchable” and sentenced to a violent system of caste apartheid with separate neighbourhoods, places of worship and schools. And while caste might have roots in South Asia, it is also alive in Canada and is haunting our communities and schools in Toronto and beyond.

Al Jazeera for more

Breaking barriers: Why free & public education should be every woman’s right

March 14th, 2023


The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (6-17 March) gets underway at UN headquarters in New York IMAGE/Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elías

This month, government and civil society organization representatives gathered in New York for the United Nations’ 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to discuss technology as a tool to facilitate access to education for women and girls.

But what should have been discussed were the basic issues of gender equality in education. As more than 85% of the world is living under austerity, and with 70% of countries cutting funding to education services, access to education for women and girls is being devastated by the lack of public funding.

The gap between boys and girls when it comes to school enrolment continues to be major, and quite concerning. Data consistently shows – particularly in low- and middle- income countries – that girls from poor families are the children most likely to be, and remain, out of school.

And the cost of education is one of the main barriers for access – which raises the question of affordability when it comes to technological integration.

While technological innovation has the potential to support instruction and education governance, we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality of digital inequality, the possibility of increased fees, and the privatization of education.

That is on top of the existing risks that are associated with the use of technology, including online violence and abuse and the lack of digital protection for girls, further locking girls out of their rights to education.

Austerity measures, public funding cuts, and privatization severely limit the goal of universal education. In a report published last November, Oxfam found that austerity is a form of gender-based violence.

And during CSW67, we emphasized that access to public and quality education is fundamental to gender equality and the realization of the rights of women and girls.

Oxfam does not claim that austerity measures are designed to hurt women and girls, but as policy makers design those policies, they tend to ignore the specific needs of women and girls and turn a blind eye to the disproportionate impact that those policies have on our communities.

We’ve reached this conclusion by gathering evidence from around the world, which showed that governments do not prioritize the needs to women and girls. For instance, more than 54% of the countries planning to cut their social protection budget in 2023 have minimal or no maternity and child support.

In their misguided attempts to balance their books against a looming global economic crisis, governments are treating women and girls as expendable. Women, particularly those from marginalized racial, ethnic, caste, and age groups, are inherently discriminated against when it comes to economic and social opportunities and accessing available public resources. Additional cuts to inequality-combatting public services mean these groups are the hardest hit.

Inter Press Service for more

The equality revolution

March 13th, 2023


image/Rafael Edwards

Always, on the way to achieving greater human freedom, it is necessary to overcome cultural, economic and social determinisms and all forms of violence. Freedom favours personal development, because it gives each person the possibility to choose what is best for him or her, and it is guaranteed by the Political Constitution and other laws.

The current feminist struggle is part of this liberation.  And it must be said, it is not only the liberation of women, it is also the liberation of alternative sexualities and their forms of expression. And it is the liberation of old masculinity (the image of being a man) to find its place of expression and non-violent relationship with women and alternative genders.

It is necessary to reconcile a process that has been going on for thousands of years: collective violence against women seems to have arisen in the Near East with the sedentarisation of human communities towards the end of the Paleolithic, i.e. some 13,000 years before our era.

Today, institutional violence is the arbitrary or illegitimate use of force granted by the spaces of power, exercised by state agents or officials and expressed through various violent practices of a physical, sexual, psychological or symbolic nature.

In many latitudes, patriarchal power maintains a criminal link with criminal organisations, which is why they operate without control, exercising brutal violence against women, starting with kidnapping, forced prostitution, martyrdom, murder and the disappearance of bodies, as denounced by groups of victims’ relatives and friends, and NGOs specialising in these matters.

In places of armed conflict, the warring sides use physical and sexual violence and the murder of women in the territory, in an insane demonstration of power and an insane pride that objectifies women, transforming them into trophies in their sick minds.

And in democratic societies, the number of women raped, tortured and murdered by their partners or ex-partners continues to grow, and for the institutions, the press and public opinion the situation is naturalised as an intrinsic part of human relations in society.

It is evident that whatever the situation of a society, in the past or in the present, and in any part of the world, the constant is the degradation of women’s humanity, giving unjustifiable space for the most terrible aberrations to be perpetrated against them, in the face of which the gaze and its recognition are avoided.

Pressenza for more