THEME 4. THE SYSTEMIC CRISIS OF CAPITALISM AND ITS CONSECUENSES ON MIGRATION
As we all know, there is a large literature about this topic. Authors like Wallerstein, Chomsky from an Anglo-Saxon view; González Casanova and Boaventura de Souza, among others, have described the characteristics of contemporary capitalism. We have chosen a few paragraphs of the two former because they are representative of a Latin-American vision of neoliberalism and neocolonialism, oriented towards action. With this initial material and others that colleagues will further contribute, we will try to summarize our ideas linking them to the migration phenomena for your discussion.
If we think and act from the local and regional to the global, everything seems that after the leftist swing in the latest Mexican election, the social and civil movement (“Peoples Caucuses”) will be able to make of our country a significant contribution in the territoriality, integrality and transversality of migrations in the WSFM18 and WSFM2020.
Pablo González Casanova “todays imperialism”
By the end of the XX century, imperialism, understood as the advanced form of capitalism, controls the whole world, with the exception of Cuba, very scarcely explained in the theory of alternatives. Since the 70 and 80’s, the redefinitions and restructuration of imperialism strengthened the process known as “globalization”. Under this process new forms of expansion for large power were outlined, particularly for the United States.
The globalized neoliberalism ignited an everlasting crisis within the world’s peripheries while appropriating the markets, means of production and services that had been created during the post-war, substituting those that were not profitable and establishing a more accentuated and repressive neocolonialism, sharing its benefits with local, civil and military oligarchies, and negotiated with them privatizations and denationalizations to associate them to the process.
This new globalization policy faced against an internal and external crisis consisted in prioritizing the neoliberalism of war and the conquest of territory, enterprises and wealth though force. In the ideological field of the United States their ideology to fight for democracy and freedom was used as a complement, severely discredited by their ideology of a preventive war against terrorism. The right to define the aforementioned and to include in the definition of terrorist all opposing actors that had to get rid, was granted, as well as to exclude from it all criminals that would be needed in the future and their own military special forces and paramilitary “with the right to kill” and “torture”.
The “preventive war of generalized action” no only constituted a profound change with regards to a “contention strategy” that had depraved during the cold war, but the most adequate form –in the short term– for the large capitals and imperialistic powers to impede the development of consciousness and the organization of emerging alternative forces.
The truth is that today, more than ever, the concept of imperialism as a stage of capitalism and the history of mankind, continues to be a fundamental concept. By articulating history of empires with the history of enterprises, the concept of “imperialism” unmasked the growing power of monopolistic businesses and financial capital. It also reformulated the anti-imperialistic struggle combining the struggle of oppressed nations with the struggle of the exploited classes.
De Souza, Boaventura; “Reinventing emancipation”.
In order to pinpoint the relation of Mexico-United States en the regional arena, we outline some ideas of undoubtedly meaning and timeliness from the great Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Souza Santos’ essay Reinventing social emancipation.
Boaventura affirms that in order to face the great challenges of our era –the unbearable social injustice and environmental collapse– attaining power is not enough, one must transform it and push for civilization changes.
The changes that are required are quite broad and complex. Contradictions are so large that revolutionary changes are needed. However, there is confusion about the concepts of revolution and reform, about times and the means to implement them, about the short-term tactics and the long-term strategies.
According to Marx, the revolution was a motor for change, and, for Walter Benjamin, it was a break the stopped us from falling into the abysm. From this scheme, Boaventura suggests some characterizations in Latin America. Reformists that seem revolutionaries: Bolivia and Venezuela; revolutionaries that seem reformists: the Zapatist Army of National Liberation (known in Spanish as the EZLN); reformists that do not even look like reformists; Lula in Brasil.
Capitalism has a destructive capacity that is now larger than its creativity: they say they defend human rights, democracy and life, and in reality they destroy them. Could capitalism do something other than that?
Nowadays, there are huge contradictions between theory and practice, between north and south, between capital and labor, between capital and nature, between the individual and cultural identity, between colonized and colonized.
What Boaventura sets to demonstrate is that capitalism has never existed without colonialism. Our independences did not end with it. Power asymmetries persist between political subjects that are theoretically the same, but that continue to see relationships of domination between oppressors and oppressed, the latter who is characterized as inferior, ignorant, local, non-productive, and lazy. Boaventura calls them “discrimination constellations”.
Nowadays, the radical nature of social struggles is not measured by –elections, resistances, lockouts, strikes– but by the ways that affect capitalism. If the interest of an oil or a mining industry are affected, there is a radical fight.
In the meantime, changes within capitalism happen to strengthen it: new ways of dispossession against indigenous people and farmers, dismay of structures of local production, destruction of public property, privatization of services, militarization, criminalization of social protesting, and a rise in state violence. Not long ago, in Peru and Chile, 800 indigenous leaders were apprehended for blocking highways, an act categorized as terrorist.
However, new strategies and ways of social fight are emerging. Among others: new territories and indigenous, farmer, rural and urban autonomies; new interpretations of legality and illegality; new popular economic organizations, collectives, services; new relationships between humans and nature.
A fundamental point of reference to understand these processes, according to Boaventura, is to start from the fact and understand the characteristics of “post-colonialism” in countries like ours. We have to ask ourselves, how does the capitalist and colonializing power act today, hegemonic? In one imperialistic world, who are their allies in Latin America?