Month: November 2007

What does a Christian of the Left do when the people protest?

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The answer is easy: DECLARES A STATE OF EMERGENCY, SENDS IN THE ARMY, THROWS PEOPLE IN PRISON!

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa removed the head of the state-owned oil company, saying the government needed to re-establish order at PetroEcuador after protests shut $3 million of daily production in the country. PetroEcuador President Carlos Pareja was fired today and replaced by Fernando Zurita, a Navy admiral, the government said in a statement. Oil produces about a quarter of state revenue…. Correa declared a state of emergency for the company, saying it was so badly run he was left with no option other than bringing in the Navy. An emergency order may be applied to Orellana province, Ecuador’s main oil-producing area, if the protests over jobs and environmental concerns don’t end, he said….“It is necessary to urgently intervene in the whole of the PetroEcuador system to safeguard national interests,” Correa said today in the statement. Correa named Pareja to the post when he took power in January…. Protesters demanding jobs, better roads and environmental cleanup forced the company to shut 47 oil wells at the Auca and Cononaco fields this week, trimming 20 percent of production at PetroEcuador’s biggest unit. Ecuador is South America’s fifth- largest oil producer, with average daily output of 500,000 barrels….“A lot of money is being lost daily” because of the protests, said Zurita, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito. He said his first task will be to establish order in Orellana and arrest protesters, PetroEcuador employees or anyone else who hampered oil production.”

Reuters managed to report on Correa without mentioning that he was a “leftist” – perhaps in shock and awe, after all this is a proper job that only few right-wingers can match:

“Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Thursday declared an Amazonian province under a state of emergency to quell a protest that has slashed the state’s oil output by 20 percent, said a presidential spokeswoman….He also removed Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea, a close adviser, for not stamping out the protest of villagers in the oil-rich province of Orellana, the spokeswoman said. They are demanding more funding for infrastructure projects….The state of emergency bans public gatherings and marches and sets curfews.”

It was still in the early days of Correa’s presidency – back in April – that more powers were invested in the army and the police for these purposes – he obviously knew what the increased development with the Chinese partners in the Amazon would mean: environmental protest against the exploitation and labour protest against not getting any jobs as part of new developments (the jobs mostly go to crews from the outside). It was that same week that Correa first spoke of leaving the oil in the soil……. What oil is to be left in what soil?? one thinks as part of the Ecuadorian Amazon sinks into a state of emergency and the control over the oil is left in the hands of the army..

Correa’s idea of saving the Amazon: a new airport?

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Rafael Correa is being billed as a great hope for his own version of “21st century socialism”, for “his” proposal to leave the oil in the soil – and he talks about respect for the traditional culture of the people who live in the Ecuadorian Amazon. But the last thing the people who live traditionally in the Amazon they could possibly need is an airport; so that’s what they’ll have? But let us first take a look at the facts about the historical genocide and the current situation for the people at the receiving end of Correa’s revolution:

“Manuela Omari Ima, who is the new chairperson of Waorani women’s organization, Amwae, has first hand experience in the devastating consequences of oil exploration. “The indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon have been decimated in just a few decades,” she says. “The Waorani people alone numbered around 16,000 at the end of the 1960s, when the oil exploration began. Today, there are no more than about a thousand of us left… I don’t know how much longer we can survive under the current conditions. Perhaps the industry will out-live us – judging by how it has wiped out other tribal peoples in the Amazon. Maybe the earth will have nothing left to give when the companies leave.” … Altogether, an estimated 90% of the indigenous peoples in the Amazon region of Ecuador have been wiped out over the past few decades”

An airport in the Ecuadorian Amazon can serve only people employed by the extractive industries, politicians and celebrities on photo shoots, cocaine gangsters, mercenaries and stupid tourists that should stay at home – it is total disrespect for the people of the Amazon, many of whom have serious financial problems getting on a 50 cent bus to take a dying child to the hospital in town. There is already one airport too many – in Tena.

“President Correa will seek Chinese investment in a major airport in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where construction is planned to start in 2008, the ministry said… Ecuador is seeking and enlarging cooperation with and investment from China, the ministry said. “The diplomatic relations between the two countries, since established in 1980, have witnessed more progress,” the ministry added… Ecuador has received 1.8 billion U.S. dollars of investment from China, making it the leading recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America. In the first nine months this year the bilateral trade volume has topped 669 million dollars.”

In the last ten years the Ecuadorian Amazon has been halved and towns like Tena doubled. Some peoples almost eradicated. Will it never stop? If Correa’s government is a socialist revolution, then what does it take to challenge the destruction of the Amazon rain forest?

Esperanza Martinez on Yasuni and the ITT proposal.

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This article by CarbonWeb.org deserves to be reproduced in full:

Yasuni – Our Future in Their Hands?

Ecuador proposes to claim compensation in exchange for leaving crude oil in the ground. Esperanza Martinez examines what this means for resource sovereignty.

Oil, for countries that possess it, is often centre stage when it comes to issues of sovereignty. Invasions have been launched to access it and military and political interventions pushed through to control it, leaving the door wide open for corruption.

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Leave the Oil in the Soil: Yasuni, ITT, the Huaorani people and the Amazon.

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There is a potentially radical process unfolding - keep the oil in the soil:

“In the heart of the Amazon basin lies the most biologically diverse forest on the planet, Yasuní. Yasuní National Park is home to the Waorani and some of the last indigenous peoples still living in isolation in the Amazon, whose ancestral lands sit atop Ecuador’s largest undeveloped oil reserves, the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil block … In 2007, the new government of President Correa has offered an unprecedented and historic proposal: Ecuador will not allow extraction of the ITT oil fields in Yasuní, if the world community can create a compensation trust to leave the oil permanently in the ground and fund Ecuador’s sustainable development into the future. The groups listed on this website portal, LiveYasuni.org, endorse this policy.

For a general overview visit http://www.sosyasuni.org/ – which is part of the Amazonia por la Vida Campaign (which is incidentally also the subtitle of the colonos blog) – and which is a social movement to expand the “keep the oil in the soil” proposal to include not only the ITT blocks, but the whole region, which is home to one of the world’s greatest diversity of species (some of which are from before last ice age) and home also to the Huaorani people and along the Napo river there are many Kichwa communities as well. Missing from the proposal, then, are at least:

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A Network of Sub-Empires: Babylon Under Siege?

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Rafael Correa is in China – signing with Chinese President Hu Jintao “14 bilateral accords and memorandums of understanding on oil, mining, railroads, tourism, health, agriculture and other sectors“.

So what does Correa’s understanding with China mean? Firstly, it means annihilation of Taiwan and Tibet:

Correa said China has a time-honored history and is full of vigor and vitality and it has made enormous achievements in embarking on the path of development suitable to its national realities. Ecuador shares brotherly friendship with China, he said, expressing hope that both sides will show mutual understanding and learn from each other so as to push bilateral ties for new progress. He reaffirmed Ecuador would adhere to the one-China policy.

Well, you might say, this is a socialist revolution and takes time to build – the means justify the end – and you win some and you lose some. But is it really best understood as socialism, this “21st century socialism”?

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Battling the Neoliberalization of University Life: A List of Strategies

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- from:  anarchist.academics mailing list
http://lists.mutualaid.org/mailman/listinfo/anarchist.academics

"My sincere thanks to all who responded to my query. The tips that you sent
were wonderful, and really quite inspiring.  Below is an initial
compilation, divided under the six subheadings of: "On Unions and
Organizing," "On Faculty Rank," "On Bureaucracy and Governance," "On
Teaching," "On Student Tuition, Fees and Support," and "General Advice."  A
shorter top ten list will be published in the January 2008 edition of
Anthropology News.  I can already imagine that it will be difficult to edit
down the expanded list of strategies that are included below.  The
below list has no copyright or individual authorship and you should feel
free to distribute it widely, to post it to wiki sites and blogs, to invite
your friends and students to expand upon it, and of course to encourage
your departments and colleagues to implement its contents."


   ------------------- Wikified here:

https://www.knowledgelab.org.uk/Neoliberalization_of_University_Life

Battling the Neoliberalization of University Life: A List of Strategies

On Unions and Organizing:

* The No. 1 way is faculty unionization.  Unionize tenure-track faculty,
adjunct faculty and graduate students who teach.  Your efforts will not be effective
if adjunct and graduate teaching staff are not organized.

* Resist the destruction of solidarities (e.g. see David Harvey, The History
of Neoliberalism).

* Support unity. As an adjunct instructor and a graduate student, I can tell
you that management is WELL AWARE of the contempt that most full-time
faculty has toward us part-timers.  During contract negotiations, I've also heard
GA's and adjuncts undercut the contracts of the full-timers.  Management
disciplines full-timers with the knowledge that they can be replaced
instantly by the army of the underemployed.

* Invite part-time and adjunct faculty, as well as support staff and
research staff, to departmental meetings. Make the minutes available to the
entire community.

* Join professional organizations that will lobby in opposition to the
lobbyists for privatization: NEA higher education organizations, AAUP, AFT.
Pay your dues or be prepared to be sold out.

* Participate in faculty governance and advocate strongly for resolutions
and policies that promote an academic community built on shared values and
scholarship instead of a corporatized institution built on entrepreneurship
and external overhead.

* Form parallel autonomous institutions that meet people's needs in a
collective, non-hierarchical fashion.  At my old school, SUNY-Binghamton,
the campus was served by an excellent bus system that was owned and run by a
collective of the drivers, funded by student fees.

On Faculty Rank:

* Reject the implementation of "benchmarks" or any other form of "standards"
for merit raises or promotions that are predicated on quantified output.
Rather, draw upon such ideas as those of Ernest Boyer (Scholarship
Reconsidered) [http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/10/02/wcu]

* Reject merit raises all together and rather spread the total raises due
the entire faculty of a department evenly to all faculty.

* When 65% of the professoriate is part-time, why have tenured positions at
all?

* Refuse to sell ourselves as "stars" to highest bidding institutions. This
reproduces the neoliberal self-made "man," reinforcing gender and class
hierarchies within the academy.

* Don't refer to enthusiastic younger members of faculty as "junior"
scholars.  It annoys them intensely and makes them feel small.

* Allow complete transparency, re: salaries paid to all faculty in all
departments.

* Identify and monitor the behavior all 'frumps' (formerly radical upwardly
mobile professors).

* Use the growing 'sustainability consensus' discourse to push for a
democratization of academia - as sustainability centrally implies
participation.

On Bureaucracy and Governance:

* Expose and oppose corporate control of academia.

* Resist the process of turning universities into institutions of management
rather than places of "higher learning" by refusing to accept administrative
positions that are newly created and not really necessary for "learning."

* The university can be run by the faculty, but the faculty must organize in
constant vigilance.  Professors could collectively attend administration
meetings and repeat the demand, week after week, to stop the metastasized
growth of bureaucratic bosses.  Use the saved funds to create more professor
positions, course offerings, and library books, and to establish student
scholarships grants.  The heart of the university is here, not in creating
ever more layers of office managers to govern this and that for a bottom
line value that is set by the new MBA bosses.

* Rip up parking lots. Implode student housing. Stop all construction
projects not related to safety. Make students get gym memberships elsewhere.

* Demand accountability for the university practices in hiring faculty,
labor, etc. in the construction of new campuses abroad (i.e. NYU's global
expansion to Abu Dhabi).

* Resist the temptation to outsource to private companies, especially big
non-local multinationals, tasks which the university could do by itself.

On Curriculum:

* Resist the neoliberal transformation of the curriculum (there is an
excellent article--chapter 6--by Aihwa Ong in Neoliberalism as Exception:
Mutations in Citizenship and Sovereignty. Durham: Duke University Press,
2006.)

* Restore a system whereby intellectual inquiry is valued for its own sake,
and not just seen as a means toward increasing capitalist productivity.  If
the government's current proposal to fund all research on the basis of
"relevance" were carried out, it would be the end of virtually all
Humanities research as we know it.

* Resist the homogenization of university studies that is taking place all
over Europe. Anthropology, in order to survive, is being asked to
demonstrate demand from the job market. And its courses are oriented towards
market demands.

* Avoid strict degree completion deadlines. Returning students bring
valuable professional experience, but they also need the time to balance
professional, work and personal responsibilities.

* Make research findings and publications freely and publicly accessible on
the web.

On Teaching:

* Teach students about neoliberalization (its history, its impacts on
individuals, etc.).  They are the ones who can stop it.

* As teachers, we have a unique opportunity to relate the material we teach
to the everyday lives of our students.  Hold seminars on campus on the
impact of neoliberalism on campus life and learning. Use critical pedagogy -
encourage critical thinking

* Create a course that studies the University as an anthropological project.

* Link with activists, community groups, etc., beyond the academy.  Carry
out critical (including participatory) research. Develop more experience
based learning courses, including internships and community service learning
programs.

* Make the world your classroom. Teach in parks, bars, restaurants, homes,
online.

* Offer courses on weekends, evenings, and on-line, so that working students
and students with child and eldercare responsibilities can take courses/make
progress on degrees.

* Encourage team-teaching.

* Conduct and assess instructor evaluations in a manner that reflects that
students are scholars, not consumers.

* Avoid grade inflation.  In a context of grade inflation, instructors that
seek to honestly assess performance find themselves at a disadvantage,
especially if they are adjunct staff.

* Develop undergraduate programs that pay particular attention to
non-anthropology majors, since they are the ones that fill your large
classes.  Increase the pressure for small classes for introductory courses.

* Make classes last as long as they need to be. Stop with the micronization
and fetishization of time. Some days I have a lot to say, some days not so
much. Some days students need to practice and drill, and other times one
profound sentence might do it.

* Quit giving standardized tests and grades. Pass/Fail. Get rid of students
who don't want to be there. Tell them to come back when they know what they
are there for. If we stop treating students like cash cows, maybe they will
actually appreciate learning.

* Assign primary texts instead of textbooks.

* Make your students do the work - have them explain concepts to each other.
Have them create materials they think are useful. Grade them for effort
rather than results - they are there to learn.

* Spend less time preparing, and more time getting to know your students and
their individual needs.

On Student Tuition, Fees and Support:

* Don't use standardized testing as a measure to determine student
admissions or funding.

* Make applying for college more affordable.  Applying to graduate programs
is increasingly expensive. Transcripts (often in duplicate) are required
from each school. The cost of transcripts is inflated (averaging $5-$10 per
order, for regular mail). Applications fees are $50-$95 per school. GRE fees
increase by roughly $10 per year (and this test should be banned, anyway,
since it only tests your ability to learn test-taking strategies, not true
knowledge or ability to succeed in a program).

* Use course packets, blackboard pdfs and next-to-last edition textbooks in
introductory courses to decrease student book costs.

* Fund all students who are admitted into your program equally. Since
Thatcher (and Reagan), efforts to turn higher education into a vocational
finishing school for industry have been much more systematic and blatant.
Under this model, if you're funded you get money to live off, to pay fees,
and to attend conferences etc. If you're not funded, you get nothing and you
have to pay fees.  So one person has masses of help, while another is
hindered and must struggle. This is one of the central ideological maxims of
capitalism.

* Organize student mutual aid networks.

* Do not permit university programs to let graduate student instructors
teach without compensation, merely for the experience of it or for credit.

* Do not burden Ph.D. candidates and recent Ph.D.s with the heaviest
teaching loads.  The abusive practice of using younger scholars as
workhorses keeps a new generation from reaching its potential, in
scholarship and as practioners.

* Pay health care benefits and tuition fees for graduate students, if
possible.

General Advice:

* Be a happy person. Stop with the bitterness.