As we reflect on the past year, we look back at five crucial struggles we covered on our Wire service. From nascent movements to established political projects, from bitter defeats to great triumphs, these struggles have taught us invaluable lessons, broadened our political horizons and kindled our hopes for a new world.
Peasants against neoliberalism
In 2020, India’s parliament, led by far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), introduced a series of bills aimed at privatizing India’s agricultural sector and dismantling long-standing government protections. date on behalf of so many -called market efficiency. Collectively, these “farm bills” were an all-out attack on the livelihoods of Indian farmers in the service of foreign capital and domestic agribusiness oligarchs.
In response, organized Indian farmers took to the streets in unprecedented numbers. It was an organized expression of democracy and disruption – nationwide strikes, road and rail blockades, boycotts and barricades of target businesses and, to back it all up, a collective self-help system for those who put their lives in danger. The women of India played a indispensable role, resisting the forces of capitalism and patriarchy. Farmers and activists around the world, inspired by the radical determination of their comrades in India, expressed their solidarity.
The struggle lasted over a year and the state killed some 700 farmers in the process. But the move proved overwhelming. In December, farm laws were repealed.
However, the fight is far from over. Indian farmers are determined to build on their victory and have made additional demands on the government. They face other threats as instruments of imperialism threaten to undermine their victory. This year we celebrate the farmers of India. They demonstrated that the masses – organized, mobilized and ready to engage in radical disruptive action – have the power to shape their own destiny.
Palestinians against settler colonialism
For Palestinians, the “Nakba” – which translates to “catastrophe” and refers to the initial ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians from towns, villages and cities in 1948 – is not a story of the past, but an ongoing and brutal colonization.
In April 2021, for example, the Israeli government attempted to forcibly evict some 2,000 Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. When locals resisted with a powerful campaign to #SaveSheikhJarrah, the Israeli state responded with brutality, attacking the Palestinian people in the streets and in their places of worship.
A few days later, the Israeli government launched a vicious military assault on Gaza, in which at least 260 Palestinians lost their lives. In response, the Progressive International urged progressive forces around the world fight for the end of the Nakba, boycott the apartheid regime – a request also approved by more than 700 leaders of the countries of the South – and get rid of your war machine through the internationalist anti-militarist organization.
Later in June, when the new Bennett-Lapid government took office in Israel, world leaders and the mainstream press celebrated the end of the Netanyahu era. Unsurprisingly, however, the administration did not just press on, but redoubled its efforts in suppressing the Palestinian people. In October, he tagged a number of Palestinian human rights groups, including Al-Haq and Defense for Children International — Palestine, as “terrorist institutions”.
But Palestinian civil society refuses to be silent. Like Shahd Qaddoura of Al-Haq, the oldest Palestinian human rights organization, wrote: “Until Palestine is free and we can finally enjoy our right to self-determination, our voice of justice will remain strong.”
Gig Workers Against Exploitation
Around the world, digital technology is creating new ways to empower workers, plunging them into ever more precarious working conditions. Nowhere is this “gigification” clearer than for app-based deliverers. During the pandemic, delivery work was an “essential service” protecting people from exposure to the virus – but it was the major platforms that reaped the benefits of this essential work. It’s starting to change. A growing movement of delivery people around the world – from Shanghai at Tbilisi, Mexico City at Taiwan — fight to end exploitation, for the right to unionize, and to challenge the cold grip of algorithmic control over their lives.
80,000 food delivery workers in Taiwan, for example, protested opaque new wage calculations by Uber Eats and Foodpanda. They call for a national union to organize and combat exploitative business models in the so-called gig economy. In Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, by contrast, delivery workers are classified as “independent contractors” and as such face a complicated process to organize legal strikes. But instead of giving up, the drivers made their status a virtue: they collectively stopped the work by simply disabling the app — disrupting the business and demonstrating the self-organizing potential of delivery drivers.
Latin America against neo-fascism
The left is on the rise in Latin America. From Bolivia to Peru, from Chile to Honduras, the people are fighting to reclaim democracy against the forces of right-wing nationalism at home and imperial intervention from abroad.
Following the triumphant mobilization against the right, supported by foreign coup that reversed the movement towards socialism in 2019, the Bolivian people reclaimed their democracy and sought justice for the victims of the coup regime.
In Honduras, the election of Xiomara Castro has renewed hope that the country could finally escape the shadow of the 2009 US-backed coup.
The Venezuelan people have continued to defend the victories of the Bolivarian process against suffocating penalties and other imperial regime change efforts, including the looting of its gold reserves by the British judicial system.
And to close the year, Gabriel Boric, member of Progressive International triumph on Pinochetista José Antonio Kast, paving the way for the radical transformation of the Chilean Constitution initiated by the “social explosion” of last year.
Deep challenges remain. A devastating election loss in Ecuador was the exception to the regional trend. In Colombia, the indigenous and peasant-led masses resistance has been violently repressed by Washington and Supported by London Government Duque. And even the victories represent the beginning, not the end, of a long historical process of claiming sovereignty across Latin America.
After a year of big wins and losses, in 2022 we look to Colombia, Brazil and beyond.
People Against Dispossession
The struggle for decolonization against imperialism is perhaps the most defining struggle of our time. Where colonialism and capitalism violently converted the common land of the many into the private property of the few, decolonization has long sought to reclaim that land for the benefit of the people to whom it rightfully belongs.
It is a struggle for sovereignty, for land, for food and against the destruction of the environment. And, despite the attempts of the imperialists to relegate colonial history to the past, the struggle for decolonization continues today throughout the world.
In Kenya, the Wakasighau, a people uprooted from their native region of Kasighau and exiled by the British at the start of the First World War, are still fighting for the return of their land.
For residents of the Indonesian village of Pakel, the fight against land grabbing and environmental destruction lasted over 100 years — first against the Dutch colonial government, then against the Indonesian rulers after independence.
On the Philippine island of Panay, the indigenous Tumandok people are engaged in a decades-long fight against dam construction projects.
In India, the tribal people of the Hasdeo forest embarked on a historic march to the state capital to save their lands and livelihoods of a mining project of the Indian multinational group Adani.
In Australia, the Wangan and Jagalingou Aboriginal nation are fighting a determined fight stop an environmentally and culturally destructive coal mining project.
In Brazil, indigenous peoples have occupied the capital Brasilia to resist government land grabs and environmentally destructive megaprojects, and fight for their territories and the right to life. And the country’s Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) — one of the the biggest social movements in Latin America with approximately 1.5 million members — fight against the eviction of 450 families living in the Marielle Vive camp in Valinhos, where they transformed abandoned land into a thriving community.
In Colombia, guard leaders of peasant, cimarrona and indigenous communities organize their members around the defense of their respective territories and spaces against the brutal repression of the Duque government.
Each of these struggles is part of a global war for the lands, rights and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples against the global forces of colonization and the mechanisms of primitive accumulation.
This article was first published by Progressive International.