TML Monthly

No. 2

February 7, 2021


Groups Designated Terrorist Organizations

Governance of Police Powers Does Not
Protect Rights or Democratic Values

- Steve Rutchinski and Pauline Easton -

Canada and Lima Group Continue Unacceptable
Stand on Venezuela

Denounce Canada's Self-Serving Foreign Policy

- Margaret Villamizar -

The Need for a New Direction for the Economy

Media Talk Covers Up Need for Political Action
by Worker Politicians

- K.C. Adams -

• Actual Lack of Employment Versus Officially
Recognized Unemployment

- Pierre Chénier -

Annual Davos Forum's Latest Shenanigans

• World Economic Forum Calls for a "Great Reset"

The "Great Reset" of Imperialism

What to Expect from a Biden Presidency

Inauguration of Joe Biden -- A Poem by Sacha

Biden, Racial Justice and a Dream Deferred

Biden's Initial Actions and People's Resistance

- Kathleen Chandler -

Contending Authorities Contest Biden's Call for Unity

Food Insecurity in the United States and the Need for a
New Direction for the Economy

Indian Farmers

Women Farmers Day Honours Their Role in the Forefront
of the Indian Farmers' Fight for Rights

- Janice Murray -

• Farmers in Their Millions Valiantly Continue Their Fight for
the Repeal of Neo-Liberal Farm Laws

- J. Singh and Meera Kaur -

Canada's National Farmers Union Stands with Indian Farmers 

- National Farmers Union -

• Why India's Farmers Are Protesting

- NFU Backgrounder -

Groups Designated Terrorist Organizations

Governance of Police Powers Does Not Protect Rights or Democratic Values

Canada's Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has announced that the Proud Boys and 12 other groups are to be designated as "terrorist entities." Such a decision is made, we are told, on the recommendation of Canadian security and intelligence agencies after an "extremely rigorous" probe has found "reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity."[1]

What criminal, terrorist activity the individual or group engaged in is not disclosed. In fact, since 9/11 even what constitutes a terrorist act has remained undefined. In the process the Government of Canada has adopted, anyone named a "terrorist entity" has to plead their case in a Star Chamber-type court which dispenses with due process.[2] Full disclosure of the allegations made and who is making them are dispensed with "for security reasons." It is a complete travesty of justice which underscores that the exercise of police powers does not protect anyone's rights, or democratic values, or society itself from the danger of extremist terrorist violence or racist, homophobic and misogynist acts.

Should extremist, racist, homophobic, misogynist acts be prosecuted and punished? Absolutely! But who is designating organizations "terrorist" and by what process are they being outlawed? And on the basis of what criteria? That is the issue, not whether they should be prosecuted if they engage in criminal acts. It is beyond absurd to suggest that rule of law is strengthened by use of police powers over which the people do not exercise control. To suggest that the police powers which rule the civil power have the consent of the governed is a travesty. It defies logic and common sense. In Canada, the civil power is itself the expression at any time and in various forms of racist, homophobic, misogynist, anti-communist, anti-worker and terrorist values. 

The FBI in the United States has decided that extremist organizations are the new terrorists posing danger domestically. The Five Eyes intelligence agencies, to which Canada belongs, seem to have adopted that definition. The role these police powers are playing in the polity reveals that what is called civil society is in fact subordinate to the police powers, and governed by them. Rule of law is the rule of these police powers, both the prerogative powers in the hands of the head of state and cabinet, as well as the police and intelligence agencies themselves and the "civilian review agencies" and so-called democratic media which have become agents of disinformation.

What is referred to as rule of law is actually subordinate to the police powers which routinely act behind closed doors in the name of national interest and national security. Those who wield the police powers tell the legislature what to do and the legislature and members of the legislature, sworn to protect these police powers, rubber stamp it. The irony is that -- as in the example of the FBI agent who is president of Proud Boys in the U.S. -- Canadian experience confirms that when a group with extremist views has engaged in terrorist acts, it is incited by the police, who are leading those organizations or have infiltrated them or, indeed, comprise them holus bolus.[3]

The Canadian state and its "security and intelligence agencies" are responsible for organizing and funding racist, white supremacist groups in Canada, including in the 1970s and '80s the KKK cross burnings on the front lawns of East Indians in BC in which the son of the Surrey Police Chief was subsequently arrested, as well as the Heritage Front and other such groups. The police agencies have either directly engaged in or instigated individual acts of terrorist violence. The list of acts of state violence, including fomenting hate and acts of violence against migrant workers, people of colour and Indigenous peoples' legitimate defence of their hereditary and treaty rights is endless!

This long-established fact should not need to be stated. However, given the way the cartel parties in Parliament are carrying on, each trying to outdo the other saying that the Liberal government has not gone far enough, it requires repeating.

The decision to designate the Proud Boys, in particular, and 12 others as terrorist groups follows the report of the U.S. intelligence agencies. The January 6 events in Washington, DC was to provide proof positive. But then it became public knowledge that the leader and organizer of the Proud Boys in the U.S. has been a "prolific police informant" working for the FBI for years. Are we to believe that the police agencies advising the government of Canada cannot put two and two together to make four? Of course they can. And herein lies the problem the polity faces!

Taking again the example of current events in the United States, U.S. law provides for harsh penalties for anyone convicted of the kind of violence that occurred on January 6 in Washington, DC, but those arrested have been charged with offences on par with trespassing. They are freed on bail to return to their everyday lives pending trial. One woman was granted permission to vacation in Mexico because it was a pre-arranged trip! Oh that the victims of police impunity in the U.S. and Canada were treated with such kindness!

Despite the facts and experience of the Canadian people, what we see and hear from the cartel parties in Canada and the U.S. is that more police powers are needed to stamp out the culture and organization of extremist violence, which they themselves are responsible for perpetrating both at home and abroad. It is brutal disinformation of the public while expanding police powers.

All of it is used to make sure no discussion takes place within the polity on what it means to defend freedom of speech and conscience while not permitting acts of violence against the people. The cartel parties which are crowing that they are the champions of rights should be seriously put in their place. Which people of colour in Canada, Indigenous persons, or persons of various faiths can say they feel safer when under "police protection?" Victims of hate and terrorist acts are supposed to accept a "trade-off" between security and rights. It is irrational.

How to deal with the police powers in Canada, including their incitement of extremist, racist, homophobic and misogynist acts is a serious matter facing the polity. To have these matters relegated to behind the scenes processes carried out in the name of national security, while keeping the mass of the people -- the polity itself -- in the dark as to criteria and depriving them of information is not the way to go. The obscene haste with which Canada is acting to outdo the U.S. by declaring the Proud Boys a terrorist group, which would not exist without the support of the police forces in the United States and the presidential powers themselves, does not prove that Canada is a law abiding safe country. It merely shows that the liberal democratic institutions are in serious trouble, laying the grounds for public opinion to be impotent in the face of  actions the police powers deem fit to take in the name of national interest and national security. 

It has always been the modus operandi of the liberal institutions to legalize a course of action by initiating it against Nazis or right-wing extremists, then in fact letting them off the hook, but targeting the people's legitimate resistance fighters. The state and its agencies, including the cartel political parties, are determined to keep the decision-making power in their hands in the name of all sorts of high ideals, to keep the people without a voice or any means of expression. It is not just the Proud Boys the ruling class is making illegal. Besides the 12 others it has designated to be a danger, the state regularly targets unions, workers' collectives and Indigenous peoples. Spokespersons of the cartel parties, such as Justin Trudeau and his Ministers, take every opportunity to extend this practice to small political parties as well which are branded as fringe, extremist and so forth.

Beware of measures the Government and cartel parties are taking and advocating in the name of national security and defending rights. The verdict coming out of the Second World War was indeed that racists and fascists have no right to speak. But this was never applied by the Anglo-American powers that called themselves democratic. On the contrary, they launched the Cold War to protect "the English-speaking peoples" and their values and way of life and no crime was too great for them, all in the name of the high ideals of democracy, liberty and peace.

Today it is only by affirming the people's right to conscience and expression and making sure they can participate in making the decisions which affect their lives that the well-being of the polity can be secured.

We are on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the demand for justice of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Where is the prosecution of those who have committed racist, misogynist and terrorist crimes against them, beginning with those entrusted to defend them -- from the top echelons of power to the lowliest police officer trained by them to emulate their spirit and "values"?

Where are police held to account for targeting people of colour, youth, the homeless, and Indigenous peoples, especially women and girls?

So long as self-serving criteria define what is a crime and what constitutes terrorism, and who decides is kept in the hands of the police powers themselves, there will be no accountability of any kind.

Shame on the cartel parties which claim to champion minority rights!


1. The 13 new groups added to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities include four that fall into the category of what the government calls "ideologically motivated violent extremist groups" (Atomwaffen Division, the Base, Russian Imperial Movement and Proud Boys). The government describes the other organizations added as "Al Qaida affiliates" (Jama'at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, Front de Libération du Macina, and Ansar Dine), and "Daesh affiliates" (Islamic State West Africa Province, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Islamic State in Libya, Islamic State East Asia, and Islamic State -- Bangladesh), as well as "Hizbul Mujahideen."

The announcement came right after the House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion put forward by the NDP on January 25 which reads:

"That the House call upon the government to use all available tools to address the proliferation of white supremacist and hate groups, starting with immediately designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist entity."

The statement issued by Public Safety Canada announcing the addition of the groups to the list of terrorist entities says, in part:

"Canadians expect their government to take all necessary steps to keep them safe, while safeguarding their values, their rights and freedoms and the open, inclusive character of our country. The Criminal Code listing regime is an important tool for countering terrorism in Canada and globally, and is part of that commitment."

Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said: "Violent acts of terrorism have no place in Canadian society or abroad. Today's additions to the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities are an important step in our effort to combat violent extremism in all forms. Canadians expect their Government to keep them safe and to keep pace with evolving threats and global trends, such as the growing threat of ideologically motivated violent extremism. The Government of Canada will continue to take appropriate actions to counter terrorist threats to Canada, its citizens and its interests around the world."

According to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS):

"Ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) is often driven by a range of grievances and ideas from across the traditional ideological spectrum. The resulting worldview consists of a personalized narrative which centres on an extremist's willingness to incite, enable and or mobilize to violence. Extremists draw inspiration from a variety of sources including books, images, lectures, music, online discussions, videos and conversations. Given the diverse combination of motivations and personalized worldviews of recent mass-casualty attackers, the use of such terms as 'right-wing' and 'left-wing' is not only subjective, but inaccurate in describing the complexity of motivations of IMVE attacks in Canada and abroad."

At the press conference when the announcement was made, Blair said:

"No matter the ideological motivation, they're all hateful, intolerant and, as we've seen, they can be highly dangerous." He said he hopes expanding the terrorist list will send a message to groups intent on sowing division and hate and causing harm, that their actions will not be tolerated by law enforcement, CBC reported.

"Their violent actions and rhetoric are fuelled by white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny, and unfortunately, often in combination of all of the above. On several different occasions we have seen the tragic results that this type of extremism can bring to Canadian soil," Blair said referencing the 2017 Quebec City mosque attack and the 2018 Toronto van attack.

As required, the listing of the 13 groups was published in the Canada Gazette: "Whereas, the Administrator in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that each entity listed in the annexed Regulations Amending the Regulations Establishing a List of Entities has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity or has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of or in association with such an entity; Therefore, His Excellency the Administrator of the Government of Canada in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsection 83.05(1) of the Criminal Code makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Regulations Establishing a List of Entities."

The "Administrator in Council" is Richard Wagner, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who currently serves as the statutorily determined replacement for former Governor General Payette.

The announcement in the Gazette serves notice that the property of those listed "can be the subject of seizure/restraint and/or forfeiture. In addition, institutions, such as banks and brokerages, are subject to reporting requirements with respect to an entity's property and must not allow those entities to access the property nor may these institutions deal with or otherwise dispose of the property." The notice in the Gazette also states that a "listed entity is included in the definition of terrorist group in the Criminal Code so offences applicable to terrorist groups apply to these entities. However, unlike terrorist groups that are not listed, a prosecution related to a listed entity does not require the Crown to demonstrate that the entity has, as one of its purposes or activities, facilitated or carried out a terrorist activity." Further, it states that "the listing of terrorist entities facilitates the prosecution of perpetrators and supporters of terrorism."

Currently there are 73 groups designated as terrorist entities. Interestingly enough, the KKK and extremist Ukrainian groups like Azov Battalion and others are not. The full list is available here

2. The Star Chamber was an English court which sat from the late 15th century to the mid-17th century to prosecute those deemed to be the King's enemies. Created by King Henry VII in 1487, it was named for a room with stars painted on the ceiling in the royal palace of Westminster where the court sat. The Star Chamber was an instrument of the monarch and consisted of royal councillors and two royal judges. The court dispensed with "due process" as it was then understood.

3. One of the first public activities of Proud Boys in Canada took place July 1, 2017 when members of the Canadian Armed Forces self-identifying as Proud Boys disrupted a ceremony organized by Indigenous activists in Halifax to mourn atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples. It was held around the statue of Edward Cornwallis, the first Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, known for his violent actions against the Indigenous peoples.

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Canada and Lima Group Continue Unacceptable Stand on Venezuela

Denounce Canada's Self-Serving Foreign Policy

January 27, 2020. Protest in Ottawa against visit by imposter Juan Guaidó.

As deputies of the new Venezuelan National Assembly were being sworn in on January 5, the imposter, self-proclaimed "interim president" Juan Guaidó, gathered a motley crew from remnants of the former National Assembly, whose term expired that day, to declare that the term of that defunct body, along with his fictitious presidency, were extended for another year. 

This latest stunt was directed by the U.S., and supported by Canada and some others. They had declared long in advance that they would not recognize the newly-elected parliament, but would continue recognizing the outgoing National Assembly as the only "legitimate" democratic institution in the country even after its term was up. In that way, they hope to prolong the farce of a parallel government with no power, that lacks support inside the country and exists mainly on social media. Time and again they have staged stunts in the belief that each would bring the Maduro government down. Time and again this has not happened. It seems that now they think another year will do the trick. 

The same day, a diminished Lima Group issued a statement exhorting whoever pays attention to it anymore, to "join in the disregard and rejection of this illegitimate National Assembly." It stopped short of taking the position advocated by the U.S. and Canada of supporting the outgoing legislature after its term expires and recognizing the "presidency" of Juan Guaidó. Just one day before, then-Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne wrote in his department’s Twitter account:  "As the Dec 6 elections were neither free nor fair, Canada will continue to recognize the National Assembly, democratically elected in 2015, as #Venezuela's legitimate legislature and its president as Venezuela's Interim President." 

The U.S. had tried, but failed as well, to get the Organization of American States (OAS) to adopt this position at a special meeting of the organization held in December right after the new National Assembly was elected. With Canada's help, the U.S. was able to corral enough countries to get an interfering resolution passed that called on the international community to "join in the rejection of these fraudulent elections" and demanded the holding of new legislative and presidential elections as soon as possible. But it did not call for continuing to recognize the outgoing National Assembly instead of the newly elected one, and had no mention of recognizing Guaidó as interim president. 

It did not take long for the social media monopolies to be mobilized to up their efforts on behalf of the regime change cause. Twitter has suspended the account of the new National Assembly. Now a fake one controlled by Guaidó's coup forces posing as the "official account of the National Assembly of Venezuela," is all that appears in an online search. Did those who cheered when Twitter censored Trump by shutting down his account, not realize how that private company's power would be and is being used to censor many others targeted by the imperialist ruling elite?

Meanwhile, sanctions against Venezuela are killing the people of that country, something Canada never speaks about. Sanctions are an act of war in which Canada is engaging without having to declare war or sacrifice a single soldier. No matter what one thinks of the government of Venezuela, it is up to the Venezuelan people to settle their own scores and the U.S. and Canada interfering in their affairs in the name of freedom and democracy is unacceptable.

The actions of the Trudeau government are beyond shameful. And just as shameful, no opposition party has seen fit to denounce what the government has been up to -- participating in a brutal economic war against Venezuelans and telling them who they can and cannot elect to govern them, preventing Venezuelans resident in Canada from voting in the 2018 presidential election (the only country to do so), and recognizing an illegal parallel government and its so-called ambassador in Canada, plucked from the putrid swamp of Miami's anti-Cuba mafia, as the "legitimate" representatives of the Venezuelan people. 

In addition, Canada is now refusing to renew the visas of or accept any diplomatic personnel designated by the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, thereby depriving more than 20,000 Venezuelan-Canadians and immigrants from that country of consular services. Should it permit the Embassy of Venezuela to be occupied by the pretend government, it would be a violation of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic affairs. Such an embassy could not even function since it controls no government services whatsoever.

None of the cartel parties can claim to be acting for Canadians who have never given their consent for any of this. The position of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is well known. It calls on Canadians to insist that the Government of Canada cease all involvement in these illegitimate activities and completely disassociate itself from the U.S. regime-change project. The Biden presidency has made it clear it will continue to push for regime change by having more effectively targeted sanctions, according to the new Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

It is to the credit of the Venezuelan people and their government that they have stood firm, steadfastly resisting plot after plot to incite a bloody civil war and smash their civil-military union so that foreign and domestic interests can seize control of their country and do away with their Bolivarian nation-building project, under the hoax of "restoring democracy." Their resolve and the fact that justice is on their side has also won them the support of democratic and anti-imperialist forces the world over, including in Canada and Quebec.

While the Canadian government has cast its lot with an illegitimate and illegal imperialist plot against the Venezuelan people, it is the Canadian people who are upholding the rule of law, democratic principles and human rights by speaking in their own name and organizing actions to say Hands off Venezuela! Respect Venezuela's Sovereignty! Let the Venezuelan People Decide!

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The Need for a New Direction for the Economy

Media Talk Covers Up Need for Political Action
by Worker Politicians

Talk about a looming economic crisis as a result of massive deficit spending, unemployment and underemployment and how the pandemic is being dealt with goes round and round. Most of it is descriptive or a matter of opinions about how more should be done in this or that direction but the reference points are generally directed at getting working people to accept the current disastrous direction of the economy. It is directed at depriving working people of an outlook of their own which permits them to organize an alternative self-sufficient economy which puts the human factor/social consciousness at the centre of its endeavours. Demobilizing the working class and ensuring working people are blocked from taking actions with analysis in their own interest is a full-time preoccupation of the cartel parties and spokespersons of the narrow private interests which dominate both the economy and the political system. It is the working class together with all concerned, that are interested in solving problems in a manner that provides a new direction for the economy and politics that serves the people and not the global oligarchs and their outmoded aim for maximum private profit. Workers need to put forward politicians from their own ranks who actually speak in their own name, not in the name of a system of cartel party government whose main aim is to keep the people away from the decision-making power. 

The  December Statistics Canada report on the large number of unemployed and underemployed workers and drop in workforce participation rate is an example of talk that goes round and round. (The January report has now been issued.)

Following its release economist Armine Yalnizyan told The Hill Times that she expects job numbers, as well as the workforce participation rate, to continue to decline. Yalnizyan said she has been keeping a close eye on participation rates in the labour force. "In the United States, we've had a cautionary tale that four times as many women as men have been dropping out of the labour market entirely. There can be all sorts of reasons for that, but the biggest reason has been other unpaid work demands, primarily caring for children who need to be homeschooled because of remote learning due to unsafe conditions or lack of child care. We are seeing that in Canada," Yalnizyan said. She added that  the drop in workforce participation has implications for the economy. "If fewer people are earning money, they have less to spend, and if they have less to spend, the recovery is being dragged. It doesn't matter how early you try and open things up to bring things back to normal -- if women are not getting back in, and are dropping out, you have a bigger problem on your hands," she said.

However, the issue goes beyond "having less to spend." The drop in the workforce participation rate plus the large number of unemployed and underemployed mean a loss of potential social value for the country. The workers not working in the socialized economy are not producing social wealth. As Workers' Forum pointed out in its February 2 issue:

"The refusal of the ruling elite to organize universal free childcare and early learning for all children is a block to the economy meeting its potential.

"The refusal to challenge monopoly right and its expropriation of the added-value workers produce drains needed social value from the economy and country that could be used for increased investments in social programs and public services.

"The refusal to challenge monopoly right to realize (pay for) the social value they consume from educated and healthy workers as social reproduced-value but instead allow the oligarchy to expropriate it as private profit deprives public education, health care and other social programs of the funds they require to meet and guarantee the needs and rights of Canadians."

Leah Nord, the senior director of workforce strategies at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said, in a press release concerning the December report, "We're not through the storm. We're not going to be able to weather this storm -- these second waves [of COVID-19] are going to affect labour markets, among other things. Within that darkness lies a concern over December's dropping labour force participation rates, mostly comprised of male youth and working women, likely frustrated by the job search and staying home to take care of suddenly homebound children, respectively. The enduring impacts of the increasingly long-term unemployed and workforce drop-outs will cast a long shadow upon the recovery, as re-entry into what will assuredly be a very different labour market presents significant obstacles."

"Nobody has a crystal ball -- we have a lot of great data out there -- but we are really going to have to cull this labour market by sectors, but also by communities," Nord added ominously.

Earlier this year, Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter told The Hill Times that the current decline in workforce participation and employment "wasn't any surprise for us," and that his concerns "predated Statistics Canada's December report." He said, "We saw a lot of smaller retailers in Toronto have had to close their doors, so naturally we're going to have job losses."

"The worry is, since then we've had wider shutdowns in Ontario and more shutdowns in other provinces, and I think we'd be extremely lucky if we don't see an even bigger decline a month from now," Porter said. "I think we all have to realize that there is a very heavy price to be paid in terms of people's livelihoods when we start calling for big new restrictions on businesses... There is a trade-off here -- we [the banks] get accused of putting profits ahead of people, and I don't see it that way. I think it's livelihoods and not profits, but I see it day-by-day, calls for even more intense restrictions, and I wonder if it's really achieving what people think it's achieving. It's definitely coming at an economic cost," Porter said.

NDP Member of Parliament and finance critic Peter Julian was quoted in The Hill Times as saying the StatCan December labour force survey reveals "devastating numbers, but I'm not surprised." Julian said, "Going into the pandemic, Canadian families already were at the highest level of debt in the industrialized world, so we've seen a real deterioration in our standard of living, with Canadians struggling to make ends meet. The devastating impacts of the pandemic have magnified that -- we're seeing people that are unable to put food on the table, people who are unable to keep a roof over their head... So when you see the employment numbers and then see the devastating financial and economic impacts that existed prior to COVID, you can see that there is an economic crisis that is brewing and that is very profound... Billionaires have increased their wealth by over $50 billion [during the twin crises]. We're seeing record levels of profits in the banking industry despite [the sector] getting [billions] in supports, [and the banks] have done very little to address the needs of small businesses or people, [so] what we have is a perfect storm where regular families are being absolutely hammered financially, and the wealthiest are getting away with massive profiteering."

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Actual Lack of Employment Versus Officially Recognized Unemployment

Statistics Canada defines its Labour Force Survey as "a monthly survey which measures the current state of the Canadian labour market and is used, among other things, to calculate the national, provincial, territorial and regional employment and unemployment rates. The survey results are used to make important decisions regarding job creation, education and training, retirement pensions and income support. At this time, as Canadians continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to have an accurate picture of the job situation, the cost of living, and the economy. Data will be used to guide government decisions and assist Canadians through these challenging times."

Statistics Canada states: "The concepts of employment and unemployment are derived from the theory of the supply of labour as a factor of production. The production referred to is in turn defined as those goods and services included in the System of National Accounts."

"While the logical and precise unit of measurement of total labour supply is person-hours, the conceptual terms of reference for the survey require that individual members of the population be classified as employed, unemployed, or not in the labour force. Accordingly, persons who are supplying services in the reference period, regardless of the quantity supplied, are classified as employed while those who provide evidence that they are offering their labour services to the market (again regardless of quantity) are classified as unemployed. The remainder of the population, those neither currently supplying nor offering their labour services, are referred to as persons not in the labour force.

"The definition of unemployment is therefore the following:

"Unemployed persons are those who, during reference week: 

- were on temporary layoff during the reference week with an expectation of recall and were available for work, or 

- were without work, had looked for work in the past four weeks, and were available for work, or

- had a new job to start within four weeks from reference week, and were available for work."

Therefore, those who are without a job but are not considered to be offering their labour services to the market are not classified as unemployed and therefore are not classified as being a part of the labour force either.

Based on those definitions, Statistics Canada reaches these figures for January 2021 (in thousands, except for rates):

Canada' s population: 31,191.2
Labour force: 20,171.0
Employment: 18,272.0
Full-time employment: 15,132.3
Part-time employment: 3,139.7
Unemployment: 1,899.0
Participation rate: 64.7 per cent
Unemployment rate: 9.4 per cent
Employment rate: 58.6 per cent

For reference, in April 2020, when the country was under severe lockdowns because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the figures were:

Population: 31,094.7
Labour force: 18,603.2
Employment: 16,184.9
Full-time employment: 13,662.8
Part-time employment: 2,522.0
Unemployment: 2,418.3
Participation rate: 59.8 per cent
Unemployment rate: 13.0 per cent
Employment rate: 52.1 per cent

For January 2021, Statistics Canada makes observations from the figures among which are the following:

- Employment fell to lowest level since August.

- Employment fell by 213,000 (-1.2%) in January. Losses were entirely in part-time work and were concentrated in the Quebec and Ontario retail trade sectors.

- The decline in January followed a 53,000 drop (-0.3%) in December and brought employment to its lowest level since August 2020.

- Compared with February 2020, employment was down 858,000 in January and COVID-related absences from work were up 529,000.

- The unemployment rate rose 0.6 percentage points to 9.4 per cent, the highest rate since August 2020.

- The number of long-term unemployed (people who have been looking for work or who have been on temporary layoff for 27 weeks or more) remained at a record high (512,000).

- Employment declined in January in three services-producing industries most affected by new and continuing public health restrictions -- accommodation and food services (-8.2%), retail trade (-7.4%), and information, culture and recreation (-2.4%).

- Employment in construction rose by 39,000, manufacturing lost 12,000 jobs, while, as a whole, the goods-producing sector gained 23,000 jobs.

- Employment among youth aged 15 to 24 declined by 108,000 (-4.6%) in January, falling to its lowest level since August 2020. Employment for female youth fell by 69,000 (-6.1%) and was farther (-17.4%) from its pre-COVID-19 February 2020 level than any other major demographic group. Male youth employment fell by 39,000 (-3.3%) and was 11.6 per cent lower than it was in February 2020.

Statistics Canada attributes the overall loss of employment to extended public health measures taken by a number of provinces in December 2020 in response to increasing COVID-19 cases.

While these statistics indicate definite trends, they do not accurately indicate the number of people who are unemployed, or the unemployment rate, because according to the criteria quoted above, actually offering one's services to the labour market determines if one is considered unemployed.

It has been known for a long time that all those workers who find themselves without a job and are not actively looking for one (offering their services to the labour market) during the time the labour survey is done are not considered unemployed or part of the labour force. This means that at all times, even at the best of times in terms of the performance of the labour market, the actual rate of unemployment is much higher than the official rate.

Aside from this, the full extent of the large increase in unemployment because of massive layoffs during the pandemic is far from being reflected in the unemployment figures.

In April 2020, with the massive surge of unemployment due to severe COVID-19 lockdowns across the country, Statistics Canada wrote:

"Large increase in unemployment

"The unemployment rate rose 5.2 percentage points in April to 13.0 per cent. This followed an increase of 2.2 percentage points in March. Over the period since comparable data became available in 1976, the April unemployment rate was second only to the 13.1 per cent observed in December 1982.

"The April unemployment rate would be 17.8 per cent, when adjusted to reflect those who were not counted as unemployed for reasons specific to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. During the week of April 12, 1.1 million people were not in the labour force but had worked recently (in March or April) and wanted to work. They were not counted as unemployed but were counted as not in the labour force because they did not look for work, presumably due to ongoing business closures and very limited opportunities to find new work." (Emphasis added.)

The assessment of a rate of unemployment of 9.4 per cent in January 2021 is clearly far below the actual rate. If one uses the same methodology, using the discrepancy that was recognized by Statistics Canada in April 2020, the January rate would be around 12.8 per cent. That is without counting all those workers who, during the period in which the survey was done, did not actually look for work for reasons other than COVID-19.

Historically, one of the aims of the assessment of unemployment based on participation in the labour market has been to ensure that Employment Insurance (formerly Unemployment Insurance) is not a social program that protects all those who find themselves unemployed in an economic system in which everything is subordinated to narrow private interests. A lower official rate of unemployment means that workers have to work more hours before becoming eligible and the duration of their benefits is shorter. This along with all the other criteria for eligibility adopted over the years which have led to a situation in which it is assessed that only about 40 per cent of the unemployed receive EI benefits. An exception made by the federal government since the end of September 2020, which will last until September 11 this year, assumes a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent is being applied in all EI economic regions across Canada. This was not done to provide justice to the unemployed but to maintain a certain amount of money in circulation in the economy so as to prevent further economic collapse.

Unemployment remains a plague inherent in the man-eating capitalist system which is made worse by the neo-liberal nation-wrecking agenda of the ruling elite. It shows the necessity for a new direction for the economy, a pro-social direction aimed at upholding the well-being and the rights of all, under the control of the people themselves.

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Annual Davos Forum's Latest Shenanigans

World Economic Forum Calls for a "Great Reset"

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a public/private partnership of the global ruling oligarchy. An anti-working class club, it is comprised of many of the global elite financed with expropriated social wealth workers have produced. The WEF meets in Davos, Switzerland annually, organizes other events throughout the year and issues publications and statements. Klaus Schwab is the leader of the WEF and a protégé of Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State under then President Richard Nixon. A cross-section of the global oligarchy including billionaires, CEOs and directors of the world's largest corporations and leaders of imperialist organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank hold leadership positions in the WEF.

The WEF Board of Trustees includes two prominent members of Canada's ruling liberal elite, current Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Mark Carney, former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England and currently a "vice-chairman of Brookfield Asset Management steering its environmental, social and governance investment strategy fighting carbon emissions." Carney is also the United Nation's Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance. Furthermore, besides being a  member of the Board of Trustees of the WEF, he, along with 26 others like him, is now also a "Guardian" of the "Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican" formed last December.[1]

The cost of becoming a member of the WEF is tens of thousands of dollars depending on the "level" of membership.

The WEF attempts to set the agenda and furnish a reference point for imperialist leaders and others throughout the world. It engages in battle any public opinion that favours the international working class setting its own agenda for a new direction for the economy and tackling how problems facing the world pose themselves objectively based on its own reference points. 

This year's forum was held virtually because of the pandemic restrictions. The concern this January was how to deal with the disastrous consequences of thirty years of neo-liberalism, for which the WEF has been an avid campaigner. To cope with the global pandemic and an imperialist economy in crisis in ways that favour the oligarchy, the WEF is calling for a "Great Reset." 

The issue facing the global elite is to "reset" their leadership and control of the economic, political and social affairs of humanity without damaging what they call their  constitutional order. This order enshrines social class positions of privilege and private ownership of massive social wealth produced by the workers, including the means of production, and without opening any space for the working class and its independent organizations to strengthen themselves. For the ruling elite, the biggest concern is how to block working people from organizing to empower themselves and gain control over economic, political and social affairs so that they can effectively deal with the problems that affect their lives and get on with building societies that serve them, not the rich. 

The existence and prominence of the WEF, the media interest and chatter of the ruling elite about this private organization and the participation of many public officials in its activities, including government leaders, underscore that they consider international civil and political institutions established in the post Second World War era such as the United Nations redundant, of no use to them to achieve their aim.

The content of the 2021 WEF in the midst of a global pandemic, economic crisis and ongoing imperialist wars is of interest to the world's peoples only to the extent of knowing what the imperialists and governments in their service are thinking and conniving to do. It is deliberate disinformation designed to divert the peoples from developing their own outlook and independent politics. The 2021 Annual meeting confirms that the ruling elite are concerned for their own private wealth and class privilege and will do everything in their power to block the organizing of humanity for its empowerment and the building of the New.


1. According to its website:
"The Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican is a global nonprofit organization established under the auspices of the Vatican with the moral guidance of Pope Francis. Our mission is to harness the potential of the private sector to create a more inclusive, sustainable, and trusted form of capitalism. The Council is led by a core group of global CEOs and public leaders, known as the Guardians for Inclusive Capitalism, who convene annually with the Vatican to advance the Council's mission."

List of Guardians of the "Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican"

- Ajay Banga, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mastercard
- Oliver Bäte, Chairman of the Board of Management, Allianz SE
- Marc Benioff, Chair, Chief Executive Officer, and Founder, Salesforce
- Edward Breen, Executive Chairman, Dupont
- Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation
- Mark Carney, COP26 Financial Advisor to the Prime Minister [of Canada] and United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance
- Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, EY
- Brunello Cucinelli, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Brunello Cucinelli S.p.A.
- Roger Ferguson, President and Chief Executive Officer, TIAA
- Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Founder and Managing Partner, Inclusive Capital Partners
- Kenneth Frazier, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co., Inc.
- Fabrizio Freda, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Estée Lauder Companies
- Marcie Frost, Chief Executive Officer, CalPERS
- Alex Gorsky, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson & Johnson
- Angel Gurria, Secretary General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
- Alfred Kelly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Visa Inc.
- William Lauder, Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies
- Bernard Looney, Chief Executive Officer, BP
- Fiona Ma, Treasurer, State of California
- Hiro Mizuno, Member of the Board, Principles for Responsible Investment
- Brian Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of America
- Deanna Mulligan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Guardian Life Insurance Company of
- Ronald P. O'Hanley, President and Chief Executive Officer, State Street Corporation
- Rajiv Shah, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
- Tidjane Thiam, Board Member, Kering Group
- Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
- Mark Weinberger, Former Chair and CEO of EY, and Board member of J&J, MetLife and Saudi Aramco

(With files from the WEF)

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The "Great Reset" of Imperialism

Ruling elites are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear -- it ain't gonna happen. A new direction is necessary in opposition to imperialism not more of the same in different garb!

The current global arrangement under the control of the oligarchy has been variously called "globalization," "one world government" and a "New World Order." The ruling elite, using public/private military forces including the massive armed might and economic pressure from sanctions and blockades of U.S. imperialism and its allies, have attempted to bring all states and international institutions under their control and destroy those they cannot control, like Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The global destruction of sovereign states, international and local civil societies and even Mother Earth herself has led to a global pandemic, economic crisis and levels of social and natural destruction that even many of the rich themselves find alarming, which has engendered a morbid preoccupation with death and defeat. They are desperately reshuffling the cards, claiming it represents a new direction for their economies and countries.

World Economic Forum (WEF) leader Klaus Schwab, in presenting its 2021 agenda of "stakeholder capitalism," tried to turn the attention of working people and youth from the real conditions of life by appealing to them to unite behind identity politics and those oligarchs cashing in on attempts to deal with the obvious destruction of Mother Earth.

"Stakeholder capitalism" has found a following among the global ruling elite including the Rockefeller Foundation and an organization of Lynn Forester de Rothschild and Pope Francis called the "Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican" formed last December. Its website describes the council as follows:

"The Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican is a historic new partnership between some of the world's largest investment and business leaders and the Vatican. It signifies the urgency of joining moral and market imperatives to reform capitalism into a powerful force for the good of humanity."

A press release from the Council says, "The Council answers the challenge by Pope Francis to apply principles of morality to business and investment practices. (Member) organizations commit to concrete action to create a more equitable, sustainable and trusted economic system."

The release says the members of the Council, "represent more than $10.5 trillion in assets under management, companies with over $2.1 trillion of market capitalization, and 200 million workers in over 163 countries. The organization challenges business and investment leaders of all sizes to embrace the Council's guiding principles and make public commitments to act on them. These collective actions are intended to lead to systemic change by making capitalism a greater force for inclusivity and sustainability."

Speaking to the "Guardians" -- a truly medieval sounding concept describing the gatekeepers of this private club and its aims, Pope Francis said, "An economic system that is fair, trustworthy, and capable of addressing the most profound challenges facing humanity and our planet is urgently needed. You have taken up the challenge by seeking ways to make capitalism become a more inclusive instrument for integral human wellbeing."

"Capitalism has created enormous global prosperity, but it has also left too many people behind, led to degradation of our planet, and is not widely trusted in society," said Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Founder of the Council and Managing Partner of Inclusive Capital Partners. "This Council will follow the warning from Pope Francis to listen to 'the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor' and answer society's demands for a more equitable and sustainable model of growth," said the member by marriage of the ill-gotten gains of the Rothschild banking fortune.

This apparently is the "Great Reset" of "stakeholder capitalism" to save imperialism. To achieve the Great Reset to rescue imperialism not only from revolution but from certain rogue and competing oligarchs, the recently installed U.S. Biden administration coined the term "Build Back Better" within a "Green New Deal," which their counterparts in the European Union call the "European Green Deal."

Needless to say, the "Great Reset" to correct the flaws and failings of neo-liberalism is organized by the same ruling elites that have dominated the imperialist world for decades. They have tightened their grip significantly since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the onset of this period of retreat of revolution in which the working people do not have the initiative in their hands. How can they be expected to solve the problems they and their system created? The fact remains that imperialism as the highest and final form of the capitalist system cannot be reformed or reset to change its stripes and motivation for maximum profit. It can only remain an exploitative form that serves the amassing and concentration of private wealth, power and class privilege through private control, coupon clipping and outright corruption and theft. It serves the ruling oligarchs and exploits peoples and nature worldwide, leading to recurring economic crises, conflict, war and destruction.

The basic contradiction under imperialism between a socialized economy of industrial mass production and its division into separate privately-owned parts controlled by competing imperialists that expropriate the new value workers worldwide produce must be resolved. A new direction and form must come into being with relations of production in conformity with the socialized economy and its modern productive forces that are in constant change, development and motion and must operate together in cooperation for mutual benefit, development and the peoples' well-being.

The constant development of the forces of production such as the world is witnessing with 5G, smart phones, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and robotic production require the constant development and change in the relations of production. Such is the spontaneous history of human beings and their forward march to a full life worth living for all, and the necessity today of conscious history-making by the peoples with their human factor/social consciousness.

(With files from WEF and the Council for Inclusive Capitalism)

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What to Expect from a Biden Presidency

Inauguration of Joe Biden
A Poem by Sacha

I watch
And I ponder
The swearing-in of the 46th president of the United States of America
Taking place in the democratic palace
With soldiers as the only audience
Joe Biden exclaims:
"America is back"
Promising light for America
Promising unity and hope
Incarnating the only solution to the horror
With the same economic policies
With the same imperialist aims
I cannot help but think
That this is the America of before
Which created the worst and fed the horror

(Original French available here)

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Biden, Racial Justice and a Dream Deferred

June 6, 2020.  Black Lives Matter march in Washington, DC following the police
killing of George Floyd.

"A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us.
The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer."

- President Joe Biden, Inaugural Address, January 20, 2021

What happens to a dream deferred?

In 1951, the African American poet Langston Hughes wrote a poem by this name subsequently published in his book titled Harlem. The poem follows.

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over -
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

"We can deliver racial justice," President Joe Biden said in his inaugural address. Certainly one has cause to wonder how a constitutional order that has repeatedly failed to provide racial justice and equality for all members of society will now "deliver racial justice."

Biden also refers to Lincoln and the Civil War saying, 

"In another January in Washington, on New Year's Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said -- and I quote -- 'If my name ever goes down into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.'

"My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people and uniting our nation."

But Lincoln did not deliver, in the sense that the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not emancipate the African Americans enslaved -- they together with workers opposed to slavery did that themselves. As Langston Hughes' colleague W.E.B. Dubois put it, the Civil War and Reconstruction were a general strike and an effort by workers, black and white, south and north, to carry forward the elimination of all enslavement.

January 19, 2021. Flags are set up in front of the Capitol building replacing people for the Biden inauguration.

Biden leaves out that the flowering of democracy that took place during Reconstruction (1865-1877) was brutally crushed by the constitutional order, as has occurred repeatedly since then, including in efforts this past summer. Or that Madison, among the "white men of property" who wrote the Constitution, specifically said it was necessary to design it so that the majority, also called the "mob" or the "propertyless majority," could not gain power. Perhaps this is who Biden was referring to when he said no "riotous mob" could ever "drive us from this sacred ground... It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever." It is a statement that he and the narrow private interests he represents will not cede power to the people, which is what history demands.

The poem by Hughes puts forward that a dream deferred explodes. Perhaps it is this explosion that most worries Biden. He seems to think the large majority accept the limitation of dreams and empty promises when they have shown in action that they are stepping up their organized fight for equality and accountability, as human beings in the here and now.

(Voice of Revolution. Photos: T. Eytan, ajplus)

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Biden's Initial Actions and People's Resistance

January 27, 2021. Action in Washington, DC on the fourth anniversary of the ban by then-President Trump on foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries visiting the U.S.

President Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States at a time of widespread discontent with government. Resistance and demands for justice, equality and accountability persist, including in cities like Seattle, Portland, New York City and Washington, DC.

As President, Biden has a responsibility to preserve the Union, the United States, as a united whole, while also preserving a constitutional order that keeps the people out of power. His Inaugural Address and initial actions are aimed at precisely this. They are addressed to the vying factions among the rulers whose conflicts remain unresolved through the means of the election. Impeachment, Congressional gridlock and talk of having to "fight the enemy within" are indications of the sharp conflicts within and between the ruling factions. For their part, working people continue to speak in their own name with slogans such as "The Vote is Over, the Fight Goes On," banner drops and organized actions in defence of rights which include the demand for a decisive say in setting the direction of the economy and the country.

January 2021. Organizing in Kansas City against evictions.

In his inaugural address, Biden made repeated reference to the Civil War. Such references are also repeatedly made by members of the House of Representatives, such as in their impeachment documents, by Senator Ted Cruz, and many others. Biden spoke to the "resilience of the Constitution" and its "we the people who seek a more perfect union." He appealed to the vying factions to unite: "We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature, for without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury... No nation, only a state of chaos." He repeatedly expressed this demand for unity among the rulers, going so far as to make it sound like a threat: "Yet hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion." 

This "disunion" is not manifested among the people, who across the country have shown their united stand, such as in the actions in city after city, south and north, east and west, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. Disunion is a fear the rulers have that their "more perfect union" will again end up in violent civil war. It is the morbid preoccupation they have with defeat and death -- that U.S.-style democracy will "die on our watch," as Biden put it. And further, that without that unity among the rulers, today's government of police powers, with its well-known violence and lawlessness, will be unable to suppress the determined resistance of the people, over COVID-19 concerns, evictions, unemployment, hunger, education, and more.

When Biden talks of the "common objects" that "define us as Americans," he refers not to the demands of the majority for human rights, equality and peace, but to the old promise of "opportunity, security, liberty..." This is accompanied by another threat, this time against the people who are told it is a "duty and responsibility as citizens, as Americans," to "honour our Constitution and protect our nation." 

What then of the striving of the people for governing arrangements that permit them to exercise control over policing and budgets, that empower them to speak in their own name and take the decisions on all the matters that affect their lives? Are their demands to be considered "extremist" and "unAmerican"?

Biden's initial actions using Executive Orders on immigration, COVID-19 and the environment are clearly intended to "lower the temperature" of the resistance and anger which exists from one end of the United States to the other. These Executive Orders, along with a $1.9 trillion bill related to COVID-19 and one on immigration, seek to line up the fighting forces behind him, especially nurses, teachers and immigrant rights organizers, as well as all those fighting to make sure Black Lives Matter. All have been organizing independently and directing their attention to defending rights and rallying the general public. Biden seeks instead to divert and limit resistance to supporting his actions. 

January 26, 2021. Protest by essential workers in New York City.

One month into his presidency, Biden does not appear to be succeeding. While some welcome the Executive Orders and legislation as a possible "start," they also express their lack of confidence that the promises made will materialize. Nurses and other frontline workers have said Biden can do far more by invoking the Defense Production Act to quickly provide all the personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing materials necessary for the health and safety of all. Immigrant rights organizers have persisted with their demands for equal rights and status for all, which Biden's bill does not begin to provide. Similarly, some unions, rights organizations and youth are organizing to strengthen resistance together at the local and state levels.

The general sentiment remains that government cannot be counted on to deliver and that it is the people's forces, that are decisive in bringing about the change required. Biden's reliance on the old ways of promising to deliver "racial justice" and end "growing inequity" by taking a few initial actions will not overcome the broad lack of confidence in government among the people. 

"The Vote is Over, the Fight Goes On."

January 30, 2021. St. Paul, Minnesota. 

(Voice of Revolution. Photos: N. Aristizabal, K.C. Tenants, A. Azikwe, K. Lopez, Davis S.)

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Contending Authorities Contest Biden's
Call for Unity

January 20, 2021. New York City protests on Inauguration Day demand defunding the police, rent cancellation, and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It is evident that President Joe Biden is having difficulty establishing his authority, especially over the use of force, in conditions where conflicts continue to manifest themselves among and between the Executive, the Military and the States. For example, Texas filed a lawsuit to stop Biden's Executive Order "pausing" deportations for 100 days. The Texas Governor and Attorney General are the same ones who had filed a lawsuit that pitted states against each other as part of the dispute over the election results. A federal judge in Texas has ruled in favour of the lawsuit and issued a national mandate to continue deportations.

One of the aims of Biden's Executive Order, in addition to trying to gain support among activists, is to exercise control over state authorities, as well as over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol, both known to have backed Trump and carried out his many illegal and inhumane actions at the border.

Texas also withdrew their National Guard troops from DC, as did New Hampshire, Florida and Montana. This is a means for them to assert their authority over those troops, which are a major armed force that State Governors, not the Presidency, control.

The mobilization, by the Pentagon, of 20,000 National Guardsmen to turn Washington, DC's Capitol into an armed camp prior to the inauguration was itself likely a message for Biden, telling him to remain loyal to the military. These Guardsmen are federalized by the president, with the consent of the state governors. While in DC they are under the command of the Pentagon. About 7,000 National Guards remained on duty until February 6 and 5,000 of those will remain until mid-March.

In a nod to the military, Biden chose an Army General, Lloyd Austin, who commanded troops in the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, as his Secretary of Defense. Given he had only been retired for four years, instead of the legally required seven, he got a special waiver from Congress to serve in a top civilian post. However, it is highly unlikely his appointment will assist in uniting the contending forces within the military and its bureaucracy whose competition over procurement, deployment and authority are highly contentious and acrimonious.

It is also known that the FBI asserted its authority, in relation to the military, by vetting all the troops in DC, removing 12 under suspicion of being "extremists." The FBI is also conducting other "investigations" along the same lines, including among congresspeople said to be part of Trump's "insurrection." To its chagrin, in the course of this process, it was revealed that its own agent is head of the "Proud Boys" -- known as the racist, Hitlerite group that played a main role in the January 6 rampage on the Capitol in Washington, DC. Of most concern however, with FBI moving to more broadly assert its authority, is whether elected officials, certain military and others, will be targeted as all contend for power and authority in a manner not deemed suitable to those who seek to exercise the monopoly on the use of force, both at home and abroad. 

It is a feature of the current situation that the various policing, state, federal and military authorities are each vying for greater power. Far from uniting behind Biden and accepting his authority over the monopoly on the use of force, they are contributing to the "disunion" Biden fears and speaks of.

All of it confirms that the existing constitutional order and its administrative state cannot solve the problems of greatest concern to the people, such as equality, the well-being of the environment, human rights, and war and peace. The old arrangements based on property concerns cannot meet the modern demand for equality, which includes a claim to equal political and social status for all human beings and the recognition of rights by virtue of being human. The ongoing resistance by the people shows it is their fight for rights and a modern democracy that empowers the people, that is unifying and providing a path forward.

It is not fortuitous that the FBI also co-authored the recent Bulletin which defined "extremists" to be all those who take action "in furtherance of political and/or social agendas, which are deemed to derive from anti-government or anti-authority sentiment, including opposition to perceived economic, social, or racial hierarchies; or perceived government overreach, negligence, or illegitimacy."

The people's forces organizing resistance to injustice and demanding equality, an end to police impunity and peace know they are far more likely to be targets as a result of this definition of an extremist than are state-inspired and organized far-right groups which, experience shows, would not even get organized if it wasn't for state support and backing. 

Vigilance is required.

January 20, 2021. Inauguration Day protest in San Francisco, California.

(Voice of Revolution. Photos: A.M Aune, Sunrise Bay Area Movement)

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Food Insecurity in the United States and the Need for a New Direction for the Economy

Food insecurity is a constant feature of U.S. social conditions. Elevated levels of food insecurity in U.S. households during the pandemic are an indication of the severity of the current economic crisis. Food insecurity is one more indication that the current direction of the U.S. economy under the control of an immensely wealthy oligarchy cannot solve its problems and provide for the people. The aim of the global oligarchs for maximum private profit comes into contradiction with the necessary aim of a modern socialized economy and country to empower the people so they themselves can solve the problems that affect their lives and direct the tremendous productive power of the economy to meet their needs and guarantee their human rights.

The Hamilton Project conducted repeated surveys of families during 2020 to investigate food insecurity during the pandemic while also using other resources of the U.S. Census Bureau. Evidence was found of a relationship between growing food insecurity and income loss from unemployment or reduction in work hours, and the absence of nutrition assistance programs. The Project says, "Food insecurity sits at the intersection of the economy and health." The surveys reveal that an alarming number of U.S. households "lack sufficient resources to provide adequate nutrition to its members."

The surveys and reported figures reveal that around 50 per cent of all U.S. families with school-age children and 44 per cent of families with below-school-age children have experienced a loss of income during the pandemic. The loss of income and growing insecurity about the future have exacerbated the persistent U.S. problem of food insecurity. The U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) quoted findings from Northwestern University for 2020 that "food insecurity more than doubled as a result of the economic crisis brought on by the outbreak." Nearly one in four households has experienced food insecurity during 2020.

The current U.S. ruling elite, no matter which cartel political party holds political power locally or nationally, have shown in practice that they are unwilling to solve the problems of poverty, unemployment, recurring economic crises and food insecurity. From the point of view of the people, they have proven themselves "unfit to govern!"

The social, economic and political conditions cry out for a new direction where an empowered people themselves solve the problems that affect their lives. No reason or excuse in the world exists that a large country with extensive agricultural possibilities, a developed economy of industrial mass production including experienced modern farmers and workers cannot meet the needs of its people for food and guarantee their human rights.

Discussion and organizing have begun to bring into being a pro-social direction for the economy and country with a commitment for democratic renewal to empower the people to solve the problems that affect their lives, stop paying the rich, increase investments in social programs, build an anti-war government and economy, bring U.S. troops and all military equipment home now, and affirm and guarantee the people's human rights.

The Hamilton Project Surveys

The surveys found 10 per cent of parents of children five years old and under report their kids do not have sufficient food and they lack the resources to purchase more. For many families with school age children, the problem of food security is compounded with the cessation of in-school lessons resulting in the additional loss of school breakfast and lunch programs.

The Project writes, "Food insecurity is a leading indicator of economic distress; food insecurity tends to rise before poverty rates catch up. Low-income families with children are most likely to have experienced an income loss (during 2020) and most likely to have an income loss coincide with reporting very low food security among the household's children.

"Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity has increased in the United States. Figure 1 shows that in 2020, food insecurity among all households and households with children remained elevated over 2019 levels and levels of food insecurity reported during the Great Recession (2008-09).

Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

“Figure 2 shows a spike since March 2020 of parents reporting "their children aren't getting enough to eat due to a lack of resources" and mothers specifically who say "that it was sometimes or often the case that 'the children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food'."

Figure 2  (click to enlarge)

The Brookings Institution "Survey of Mothers with Young Children" shows 12 per cent of mothers, who only have children five years old and under, reported that their children did not have enough to eat in April 2020. This percentage fell to 10 per cent in October and November after the economy rebounded somewhat and some schools reopened.

A U.S. Census Bureau pulse survey "which has a larger sample size and surveys both mothers and fathers," found similar results as the above survey for parents who have children younger than school-age (12 per cent to 10 per cent food insecurity). However, 17 per cent of parents with children of all ages reported in June that they and their children did not have enough to eat. This fell to 12 per cent in a pulse October survey.

The Project says the reports of parents and children not having enough to eat in 2020 "is quite high by historic standards." It writes, "A typical feature of recessions is that those who had fewer means before the downturn suffer more during downturns and for longer. Indeed, the loss of a job or income, as well as unstable child care arrangements are associated with the onset of food insecurity. The downturn instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to increase food insecurity even more: the loss of child care, as well as meals provided at free or reduced cost at school and social distancing guidance that restrict movement outside the home.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, low-income families with children have been the most likely to have lost earned income during 2020. About 50 per cent of families with school-age children and 44 per cent of families only with children who are below school-age reported in October 2020 that they had experienced a loss of income during the pandemic. Of the parents reporting that their children do not have sufficient food, 73 per cent of parents of school-age children and 71 per cent of parents of only younger children also reported experiencing an income loss. [...]

"One-third of households with children with 2019 incomes above $150,000 reported an income loss (in 2020), about 60 per cent of families making below $50,000 in 2019 did. One-third of households with children making less than $25,000 a year reported very low food security among children. In addition to the direct relationship between diminished purchasing power and children having insufficient food, the loss of prepared school meals, supply chain issues, and rising food prices make it harder to stretch a dollar."

The Project writes, "There are immediate and long-term health consequences to inadequate nutrition and limited access to food. Children born into food insecure households risk birth defects, and children living in food-insecure households tend to have a lower health-related quality of life, higher rates of asthma, less nutritious diets, anemia, and cognitive and behavioural problems that affect well-being and school performance.

"In the first five years of life -- the foundational years for brain and physical development -- food insecurity directly and indirectly impedes healthy development. That parents of children younger than five are reporting such high rates of very low food security among their children, almost 10 per cent in two surveys fielded in October, is of urgent public concern.

"Deteriorating economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it even more difficult for many low-income households, including those with children, to afford groceries."

In May 2020, The Project conducted a broad survey of families with children to investigate food insecurity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Project "asked validated questions taken from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) food security questionnaire. Households and children are considered food insecure if the respondent indicates the following statements were often or sometimes true: 'The food we bought just didn't last and we didn't have enough money to get more. The children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food'."

Regarding this and other surveys at the time, The Project writes, "Figure 1 illustrates the high levels of food insecurity observed in the COVID Impact Survey and in the Survey of Mothers with Young Children. By the end of April, more than one in five households in the United States, and two in five households with mothers with children 12 and under, were food insecure. In almost one in five households of mothers with children age 12 and under, the children were experiencing food insecurity.

"Rates of food insecurity observed in April 2020 are also meaningfully higher than at any point for which there is comparable data (2001 to 2018; Figure 2). Looking over time, particularly to the relatively small increase in child food insecurity during the Great Recession (2008-09), it is clear that young children are experiencing food insecurity to an extent unprecedented in modern times.

"In the Survey of Mothers with Young Children, 17.4 per cent of mothers with children ages 12 and under, reported that since the pandemic started, 'the children in my household were not eating enough because we just couldn't afford enough food.' Of those mothers, 3.4 per cent reported that it was often the case that their children were not eating enough due to a lack of resources since the coronavirus pandemic began." [...]

"But responses to this question alone do not fully capture child food insecurity. To estimate food insecurity, the USDA aggregates a battery of questions on access to food from the Current Population Survey. In total for 2018, 7.4 per cent of mothers with children under the age of 12 had food insecure children in their household, more than double the share who said that the children in their household were not eating enough because they couldn't afford enough food (3.1 per cent). If the ratio between this single question and the overall measure of child food insecurity were to continue to hold today, 17.4 per cent of children not eating enough would translate into more than a third of children experiencing food insecurity.

"The Survey of Mothers with Young Children found that 40.9 per cent of mothers with children ages 12 and under reported household food insecurity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is higher than the rate reported by all respondents with children under twelve in the COVID Impact Survey (34.4 per cent) but the same as women 18-59 living with a child 12 and under (39.2 per cent.)

"In 2018, 15.1 per cent of mothers with children ages 12 and under affirmatively answered this question in the FSS [Food Security Supplement survey], slightly more than the 14.5 per cent that were food insecure by the complete survey. The share of mothers with children 12 and under reporting that the food that they bought did not last has increased 170 per cent.

"Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 per cent from 2018 to today. Using the COVID Impact Survey, I (Lauren Bauer, Managing Director of The Hamilton Project) find that 34.5 per cent of households with a child 18 and under were food insecure as of late April 2020." [...]

"High levels of food insecurity are not just a problem of households with children. Prior to the crisis, in 2018, 11.1 per cent of households were food insecure and 12.2 per cent of households answered the single question in the battery affirmatively. The Urban Institute's Health Reform Monitoring Survey, in the field from March 25 to April 10, used the six-question short form food insecurity module and found that 21.9 per cent of households with nonelderly adults were food insecure. By late April 2020, 22.7 per cent of households reported in the COVID Impact Survey not having sufficient resources to buy more food when the food that they purchased didn't last. Overall rates of household food insecurity have effectively doubled." [...]

"New nationally representative surveys fielded since the pandemic began show that rates of food insecurity overall, among households with children, and among children themselves are higher than they have ever been on record."

(All quotations, survey results, figures and methodology can be found at Hungry at Thanksgiving: A Fall 2020 Update on Food Insecurity in the U.S., The Hamilton Project and other articles in the series.)

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Indian Farmers

Women Farmers Day Honours Their Role in the Forefront of the Indian Farmers' Fight for Rights

 January 18, the 55th day of the farmers' protests at the Delhi border, was marked as Mahila Kisan Diwas (Women Farmers Day) to honour the contribution of women in the mobilization to repeal the farm laws. The day saw broad participation by women in more than 300 districts in India with large marches and tractor rallies organized, some targeting members of the central government in their home regions. Women at the main camp at the Tikri border organized programs to mark the day.

One of the reasons the tribute to the women's role in the forefront of the protests was organized was in defiance of the statement made January 11 by Chief Justice of India, S.A. Bobde at a hearing regarding the farm laws when he asked why women and elders were being "kept" in the protest, suggesting they should be "persuaded" to return home, and threatening that the court might pass an order in this regard.

Women have been very active in the mobilization in their villages against the farm bills since the summer and while more and more women join the protest camps at the Tikri and Singhu borders, many others continue to organize in the local areas as well as run their family farms, while other family members participate at the Delhi borders.

Young women students, the daughters of farmers, have been joining in creating awareness using social media and holding discussions in the villages, encouraging women to join the protests. At Tikri and Singhu borders they often take the stage to address the protesters.

Older women have also joined the protests. One woman at a camp on the Delhi border told reporters, "I have never been in a protest before, but I would happily die for my land and for my future generation. ... We will fight for our rights."

Women will be particularly severely affected by the new farm laws. According to a 2018 Oxfam report, 81 per cent of all economically active women work in the agriculture industry -- 33 per cent of them as agricultural labourers while 48 per cent are self-employed farmers. "They remain central to farming, where they do most of the sowing, transplantation, harvesting, food processing, and more." Of the rural women involved in agriculture, the Oxfam report states, only 13 per cent own land.

Camp at Singhu Border crossing, Delhi.

Katehra, Punjab



(Photos: jaitrejait, Bharti Kisan Union, Sukhvir, NBT Dilli, A. Kaur, M. Sanghamitra, MAKAAM)

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Farmers in Their Millions Valiantly Continue Their Fight for the Repeal of Neo-Liberal Farm Laws

January 26, 2021. Farmers welcomed by the people of Delhi with a shower of flower petals as they enter the city for the Republic Day Tractor march.

On January 26, Republic Day in India, the attention of the world was not on the usual pomp and ceremony at Delhi's Red Fort, but on the tractor march by hundreds of thousands of farmers on the roads of Delhi, declaring that they are the Public in the Indian Republic. They also declared that they are the real patriots because they feed the whole country. Despite this, representatives of the ruling elite and their media, keep calling them "anti-national," " terrorists," "Maoists," "Khalistanis" and other epithets which they use to justify treating them as criminals. The tractor march featured floats depicting the life of farmers and toilers from all over India. "It is definitely memorable. The farmers and workers are making history," one person said of it. Thousands of farmers in other capitals and cities throughout India also held tractor marches and protests for the repeal of the anti-social farm laws that the central government has brought in.

In Uttar Pradesh, police had issued notices under section 149 -- a colonial provision -- to farmers who owned tractors, to not take their tractors on the road from January 23 to 26 in order to "safeguard children on the road." But the farmers in their thousands defied these notices and went to Delhi. The government had also ordered the diesel dealers to not sell diesel to the farmers. The farmers responded by setting up their own diesel supplies. Rallies, demonstrations and protests took place all over the world in front of Indian missions in support of the farmers and their just demands.

Every attempt is being made to discredit the farmers. At the tractor march on Republic Day the police staged a provocation with what appeared to be a small group of farmers who left the main march, breaking through barricades and reaching the Red Fort where they hoisted the flag of the farmers and the Sikh gurus. Not surprisingly, the government immediately seized on the incident as a pretext to unleash further police measures on the farmers and their supporters. Leaders of the farmers condemned the action saying it was led by agents provocateurs closely connected to the governing party, the BJP. One of them was seen in a photo op with Prime Minister Modi. It is also reported that a farmer was shot dead by the police. There are reports of some policemen also getting injured in clashes at the Red Fort. The corporate media screamed overtime to demonize the farmers' march using the few scattered incidents to detract attention from the justice of the farmers' cause and the millions upon millions who espouse it. 

To stop the farmers from gathering in Delhi, trains headed there have been either short stopped or diverted, citing operational pretexts. Cement walls and cement barricades have been built on orders of the central government. The latest measure of the central government is to order the Delhi police and government to prevent the supply of water, food, sanitation and essential items sent by people of nearby states from reaching the farmers who are in the midst of this heroic unprecedented protest. The farmers responded that these illegal measures would not deter them from achieving the repeal of the anti-social neo-liberal farm laws.

Farmers also marched on foot to the Lok Sabha, the parliament, during the budget session that got underway on January 29. Farmers' unions announced a countrywide 'Chakka Jam' to be held February 6 to block national and state highways for three hours in protest against the internet ban in areas near their agitation sites, harassment by authorities, and other issues.

At the Ghazipur border, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said the police barricading could not stop the farmers and they were ready to continue their protests as long as needed. "Talks with the government will continue, this taarbandi (barricading) will also continue. We have been told that no one will be able to leap over these barriers. This movement is of the poor. The king is fortifying this place, but we are prepared till October-November. This protest will not end any time soon," Tikait said. "Repealing the laws is the only way out."

The Samkyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of protesting unions, informed that the Twitter accounts of Kisan Ekta Morcha and a user named 'Tractor2Twitter' have been restricted. Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said the action against the Twitter account was taken on the "request of government authorities." He also decried that the government's Union Budget 2021, reduces the allocation to the agriculture sector.

In a statement, the SKM said, "Increased barricading including trench-digging, fixing nails on the roads, barbed wire fencing, closing off of even internal roads, stopping internet services, orchestrating protests and facilitating the same through BJP-RSS [Bharatiya Janata Party -- Rashtriya Swayannsevak Sangh] workers, diversion of trains and stopping them before destination stations are all part of multiple attacks being organized by the government, its police and administration against the protesting farmers."

"On one hand, the Prime Minister says that the solution is only one call away, but on the other hand the government is doing its best to block off the protest sites, cut off facilities and inconvenience the public," the statement said.

At the Singhu border, farmer leaders demanded the release of the 122 people arrested by the Delhi Police, blaming them for violence in connection with Republic Day events. SKM's Darshan Pal said: "The Delhi Police have released the list of 122 agitators (activists) who were taken into police custody. We demand their immediate release. We also condemn the attacks on and arrests of journalists who are covering the movement." Questioning the police tactics, Pal said, "To ensure that more people do not join (the protests), to cut off the coordinated functioning of the Morcha, to project images of violence so that ordinary people stay away, and to crack down on protesters through fabricated charges and arrests, while the real criminal elements go scot-free without any arrests and concrete police action so far, reveals the fact that the government is very scared of the increasing support for the movement." Organizers are concerned that many people at the protest sites had gone "missing," he added.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, a farmer leader from Punjab, and part of the SKM, told reporters that the modalities of the February 6 'Chakka Jam' were to be decided after discussion with various unions collectively, including those protesting at Ghazipur border site, the new focal point of the farmers movement against the new farm laws. Rajewal claimed during the press conference that scores of people have been "detained by the police" and First Information Reports (FIRs) have been filed against many, including a journalist. "Our February 6 protest would also be against this harassment faced by journalists who are trying to report the truth from the ground, and the Twitter restrictions," he said.

Thus far, the farmers are developing many other forms of protest to show they are undeterred. They stand united in their demand for the repeal of the farm laws: the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

An Explosion of Songs, Poems, Plays,
Paintings and Other Art Forms

Another prominent feature of the historic protest is the explosion of songs, poems, plays, paintings and other arts inspired by the farmers movement all across India and both East and West Punjab. Many of them talk about Sidak -- Fidelity to the cause; Sabar -- Discipline, Patience and Ekta -- Unity. One of the songs that has become very popular is:

Asin Padhange Kisan Mazdoor Ekta
Tera Honna Chhutkara Zindabad Bolke

(We uphold the unity of farmers and workers
You can only save yourself by shouting Long Live!)

Asin Izaatan De Rakhayan Di Qom Hakima
Tainun Sharam Na Ayee Atwadi Bolke

(We are defenders of dignity
Listen you rulers -- You have no shame in calling us extremists)

Zindabad, Zindabad,Zindabad
Tainun Dilliye Ekath Eh Preshan Karuga
Faslan De Faisle Kisan Karuga

(Listen Delhi! Our unity is trouble for you
The Farmer will decide about his crops)

A seven-year-old boy sang it on the stage with great flair and passion and thousands of men and women joined him with both their arms up in the air shouting Zindabad, Zindabad, Zindabad. (Long Live, Long Live, Long Live).

Another song declares:

Sade Layi Kile Ban gayian ,Sadkan Ne Patshah
Barse Koi Noor Ilahi Dilli De border Te
Ose Hi Rah Te Tur Paye Put Tegh Bahadur De
Barse Koi Noor Ilahi Dilli De Border Te

(For us the roads and highways have become forts
A divine light shines at our encampment at the border of Delhi
Sons of Tegh Bahadur are marching on the same path)

The song invokes memories of Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh, his four sons and mother who became martyrs while fighting tyranny. Hundreds of songs, poems and plays are depicting the struggles of farmers and all toilers. Many of them are invoking the struggle against the British. Punjabi songs and poems are evoking memories of the centuries-long fight of Punjab against Delhi.

(With files from correspondents in Delhi, The Wire and relevant press releases from the farmers' unions. Photos: A. Kaur, U.A. Awan, Mansi Kaur, Robo Human, Sanchit, Badesha, S. Bhadoriya, Gulish News, P. Kumar)

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Canada's National Farmers Union
Stands with Indian Farmers 

This statement by the National Farmers Union and their Backgrounder were issued in early December 2020.

The National Farmers Union stands in solidarity with farmers in India, who continue to protest new agricultural laws formally passed in September. This agriculture reform will effectively undermine the guaranteed prices farmers receive through government purchase of staple crops and open them up to exploitation by large corporations. Tens of thousands of Indian farmers are protesting, demanding that these reforms be rescinded or that a new law be introduced to guarantee them a minimum price for their crops. "We in Canada recognize the Indian farmers' struggle as similar to our own struggle. We support them in their right to protest, and in their call for agriculture policy that supports the millions of smallholder farmers growing food in India," said NFU President Katie Ward.

As shrinking net farm incomes reach a crisis level for farmers around the world and also in Canada, Canadian farmers understand the need for government regulation that works for farmers rather than for those who take profits at the expense of farmers. "We have experienced the dismantling of institutions that were vital to the bargaining power and, by extension, incomes of Canadian farmers," said NFU Vice-President Stewart Wells, "For example the loss of the single desk marketing system for hogs in the 1990s and more recently the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board, among others."

As a result of losing the single-desk marketing system for hogs, thousands of Canadian farmers could no longer raise hogs because they could not access the market without a contract. The intentional shift to corporate hog production has left that sector fully vertically integrated and dominated by only three meat processing corporations. Prices are regularly below the cost of the production. The industry is heavily dependent on government safety nets to ride out the highly volatile market. It is an industry now largely devoid of family farmers. The change in hog farming in Canada was swift and brutal for family farmers raising hogs -- a direct result of agriculture policy aimed at assisting corporations instead of farmers.

While the circumstances of Indian farmers are vastly different than Canadian farmers in many ways, it is clear that agricultural policies that serve to undercut farmers' livelihoods to make room for large corporations to profit will have devastating consequences for the millions of smallholder farmers and their families.

India's food security is threatened, as the new laws will shift its agricultural economy from "food production" for people to "commodity production" for trade and export. Farmers take on more debt and risk in a system of contract farming. The new laws will lift the ban on hoarding food by corporate buyers, which will allow them to capitalize on ups and downs in production by price-gouging consumers during shortages and depressing prices to farmers in times of abundance.

"Farmers did not ask for this reform, and it is not in their interest. The impacts will be devastating and far-reaching. Canada's NFU supports Indian farmers in their opposition to these reforms," Ward stated, "We object to the suppression of democratic protest taking place in India this week. We stand with Indian farmers, and their right to protect their livelihoods by protesting the imposition of these unjust laws."

(December 06, 2020)

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Why India's Farmers Are Protesting

India has 164 million farmers, and many have small farms where they grow food to feed themselves and sell locally to feed their communities. Over half of India's workforce is involved in the agriculture sector. Hundreds of thousands of farmers are protesting impending changes that will result from three controversial laws. Farm leaders have been in talks with government, demanding that these laws be repealed. Tens of thousands of farmers are in New Delhi itself, and more camped out around the city, blocking entrances. Protests are occurring all across India, with the support of non-farmers in other sectors such as transport. On December 8, the farmers called for a peaceful national general strike in support of their demands.

New Laws Passed in September Set to Go into Effect in December

In June 2020 the Indian Cabinet put forward three controversial agriculture reform bills in conjunction with its suite of COVID 19 measures. In September, these bills -- The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, The Essential Commodities Act (Amendment) Bill and Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill -- were passed by the Indian Parliament in a rushed process, without allowing for extended debate or careful examination by a committee. The final vote was conducted by voice rather than ballot, making it impossible to have a clear count of the votes. The bills will become law once they are approved by President Ram Nath Kovind....

The Bills

The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill -- This bill allows for direct contracting between farmers and buyers prior to sowing, but does not require these contracts to be in writing, does not penalize companies that fail to register their contracts, and does not set a minimum price. The farmers can thus be left with no recourse if terms of the contracts are not fulfilled.

The Essential Commodities Act (Amendment) Bill -- This bill removes all limits that have, until now, prevented companies from hoarding basic food items including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions, and potatoes, even in the event of war, famine or natural disaster. This change was made at the request of food processing and food exporting corporations.

Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill -- This bill deregulates trade by allowing farmers to sell outside of their own state's Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee (APMC) markets, and prevents states from collecting fees from the markets to fund their operation. This will allow corporations to set up their own, unregulated markets.

Implications for Farmers

Direct contracting increases the power of buyers. To reduce costs of obtaining supplies, companies will purchase from the largest farms and/or look for the lowest prices. This will lead to small farms no longer having access to any market. As small farmers are forced out, land holdings will become larger and more concentrated. Vertical integration of farms with processing companies will accelerate this process, as risks and debts are offloaded onto the least powerful in the value chain.

As small farmers lose their land or are no longer able to survive on lower, deregulated prices they will be forced to leave villages and move to cities, where employment is uncertain. Small farmers produce food for themselves and communities. By shifting from public markets to corporate buyers who operate nationally, food will move to larger markets. There will be less food available locally and it will be more expensive.

Allowing corporations to hoard food empowers them to buy up supplies at low prices when there is a good harvest. It shifts the public "strategic reserve" meant to buffer volatility and prevent hardship and instead creates private control of the food supply. Companies will be allowed to export hoarded food, even in the event of natural disaster, war or famine in India.

The new laws create a positive environment for consolidation of farmland, concentration of ownership in agricultural companies, greater control of markets and prices by large processors, retailers and exporters, and increased sales of commercial seed, chemical inputs such as fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides, and digital technology for data mining, surveillance and automation.

Which Powerful Corporations Stand to Gain?

Some of the same multinational food, agribusiness and technology companies active in Canada are also active in India: including Bayer, BASF, Dow Dupont, Nestle, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. Some of the large agribusiness corporations are also Indian, such as Tata, Bharat Group, Atul, and Nuziveedu Seeds.

Why Does This Matter to Canadians?

If allowed to go into effect, these laws will increase the power of the world's largest agribusiness corporations. It will embolden them to demand similar changes in other countries. The ability of large corporations to force down prices to Indian farmers and to demand adherence to corporate priorities as a condition of making a living will affect farmers around the world.

As Canadians and fellow farmers we recognize the harm that the Indian laws will do to Indian farmers and their families. We want to live in a world where human lives are respected, where people can democratically shape their future together, carry forward their food cultures intact, and have hope that our children will be able to live well as farmers if and when they choose to.

We are stronger when we act together, whether it is by marketing our products or standing up for our rights.

(Source: National Farmers Union. December 8, 2020.)

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