Remembering that politics is the contest of who benefits from what we produce, the political bargaining that has brought in Ramaphosa as president appears to have divvied up the cake between elites with the poor immiserated millions who actually bake it getting just crumbs. There’s no punishment for exploitation only reward, which is why past injustice is so resilient through transitions. Where workers’ struggle has been able to win concessions, transitions present opportunities for the elite to win back ground.
This is happening in Brazil with right-wing President Temer rolling back gains achieved under the previous Workers Party governments. And in Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa is courting investors and reviewing the land resettlement programme. Though he finds himself in office by no means of a soft coup, President Ramaphosa is championing the same turn on workers’ rights in South Africa. Labour law amendments that will limit the right to strike and strengthen the hand of employers are being hurried through the National Assembly for a trumpeted launch on May Day. Wrapped in a R20 per hour national minimum wage, the fanfare might convince workers of progress. They must not be fooled.
In our Women’s Day commemoration this year we must note that the national minimum wage (NMW) is actually a paltry R20 per hour. Most vulnerable workers are women who are forced to work limited and flexible hours and will not even earn the measly R3500 per month NMW.
While the #MeToo Hollywood campaign has received much media attention and highlighted the sexual abuse and oppression of women, conscientising millions worldwide in the process, we must be mindful of the hypocrisy and double-standards of the Hollywood glitterati. While correctly attacking US President Trump on every conceivable platform, they lavishly praised his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was responsible for the mass murder of thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya through indiscriminate bombings and drone attacks. Similarly, they elevated Pakistani heroine, Malala Yousafzai, who stood up against the Taliban’s oppression against girls, her Palestinian counterpart, 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi remains completely ignored. Such is the politics and hypocrisy of the Hollywood glitterati and their bourgeois feminism.
In this week’s edition we offer three enlightening articles on women’s oppression and struggle.
| SOUTH AFRICA
The outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa is a food horror of our profit-driven corporate food system, with limited state regulation. The current corporate controlled food system is to blame for compromised health standards in South Africa, which has led to food horrors of not only Listeriosis, but also obesity, hunger, malnutrition, child stunting, and diabetes, to name a few. ngopulse.org/
| INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
More than one hundred years after that historic moment in Petrograd when a march by women set off the Russian Revolution, the journey to true liberation is far from over. We are reeling from news about female workers at a gambling company called Top Bet who were strip searched and humiliated by a branch manager, after menstrual blood was found at the workplace. wwmp.org.za/
Women protest their lack of bodily autonomy daily in Iran. The number of women making flags out of their headscarves in public spaces is increasing. theconversation.com/
Low income, migrant women working tirelessly as employees, carers, wives and mothers knew withdrawing the work they did would stop the world from turning. independent.co.uk/
Sexism is so endemic today that it can be difficult to imagine a society that does not degrade and devalue women. In today’s capitalist society women face sexism everywhere we turn — within our own homes and personal relationships, in school and in our professional careers, even as we walk down the street. But this is not the way things always have been. Oppression of women is not a part of human nature. Sexism is not natural, which means we can eliminate it. liberationschool.org/
Brazil has been in crisis since a parliamentary coup installed a right wing president, Michel Temer. His mission is to dismantle pension and labour laws, along with efforts to privatise firms such as Petrobras, state-owned electricity firms and public banks. Complementing such proposals, austerity measures have been enacted that restrict budgets for education and health care. global-labour-university.org/
The company has won plaudits for its admission of forced labour in the Thai seafood industry but much of the supply chain remains hidden. theguardian.com/
Within its digital borders, China has long censored what its people read and say online. Now, it is increasingly going beyond its own online realms to police what people and companies are saying about it all over the world. nytimes.com/
H&M promised a living wage for the people who make the company’s clothes, but it has thinned down what it means by that. racked.com/
The Israeli parliament has passed a law that allows the minister of interior to revoke the residency rights of any Palestinian in Jerusalem on grounds of a “breach of loyalty” to Israel. aljazeera.com/
| NEW TECHNOLOGIES / NEW FORMS OF LABOUR
A group of Silicon Valley technologists who were early employees at Facebook and Google, alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, are banding together to challenge the companies they helped build. nytimes.com/
After allegedly being fired for wanting to bargain collectively, a group of tech workers are fighting back. sfweekly.com/
Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, has begun work at a restaurant in Pasadena, Los Angeles. bbc.com/
David Hookes, a scientist at Liverpool University who is also a member of the UK Labour Party talks about the role of technology and how science and technology can be used by the working class to deal with climate change and employment. Production of Labor Video Project
I’ve been black nearly seven decades. My blackness does not require affirmation from the Disney/Marvel Comics Universe, where Tony Stark is a greedy Pentagon contractor, where Captain America is a genetically modified organism, where the Wakandan king and the wannabe king both work with/for the CIA. For those of us aiming to build a better world, this movie is nothing short of enemy propaganda. blackagendareport.com/
Yet another movie filled with anti-Russian clichés. Cold War and post-Cold War thrillers featuring Russia are two a penny, but this film – released to generally poor reviews – perpetuates a Western myth about Soviet and Russian ‘sexspionage’ that extends far back into the Cold War. russiafeed.com/
Can Civilisations make sense of art when we have different ways of seeing?
As a means of understanding art, it is John Berger’s Ways of Seeing that has shaped contemporary thinking more than anyone. “The history of art,” goes the episode two of Civilisations, “isn’t just a history of artists… It’s also the history of the men and women who looked, who interpreted what they saw, and of the changing ways in which they did so.” The very title of the episode, How Do We Look?, echoes Berger. theguardian.com/
How Winston Churchill and the British government attacked the Greek Resistance and sowed the seeds of civil war. jacobinmag.com/
Many believe that religion and socialism cannot coexist — that in order to be a socialist you have to be an atheist — yet, as Naima Omar shows, the magnificent example of the Bolsheviks’ relationship with Russia’s Muslim population following the 1917 revolutions is rooted in a different tradition. socialistreview.org.uk/