What Is Exploitation?

The term “exploitation” typically conjures up images of horrendous working conditions, perhaps sweatshops in China or India, or the child labour used by Western clothes manufacturers. We think of people working long hours for little pay in terrible conditions ruthlessly bullied by unscrupulous bosses or gangmasters.

Such “exploitation” is presented to us as exceptional – and contrasted with the “normality” of working life for most people, particularly in countries such as Britain.

Karl Marx had a different understanding of exploitation. Rather than seeing it as exceptional, he argued that exploitation is fundamental to capitalism.

For Marx, exploitation was not just about the level of wages received, or working conditions, but was the very process whereby capitalism creates profit out of the work we do.

In order to understand what Marx meant by exploitation we need to start with his explanation of where profits ultimately come from – the “labour theory of value”. Continue reading

Cuba! Africa! Revolution!

[***Please note: Jihan El-Tahri’s film has been removed and replaced with a short related film***]

“CUBA! AFRICA! REVOLUTION!”

Jihan El Tahri’s 2007 documentary “CUBA! AFRICA! REVOLUTION!” (aka “Cuba, an African Odyssey”) tells the previously untold story of Cuba’s support for African revolutions. This documentary unravels the story of the so-called Cold War,through the prism of its least known arena: Africa. Against colonialism, capitalism, and communism, the newly independent nations attempted for the first time to gain real control of their own countries. From Che Guevara’s military campaign to avenge Lumumba in the Congo, up to the fall of apartheid in South Africa, 300,000 Cubans fought alongside African revolutionaries.

Patrice Lumumba was an African anti-colonial leader, and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after he assisted it achieve independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup. He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated. President Colonel Mobutu, the key figure in the coup, supported by the Congo’s former colonial power, Belgium, and the CIA, became the Congo’s ruler. Cuba shared Africa’s revolutionary quest for independence.

Fidel Castro decided that Cuba could not stand idly by, so he sent Che Guevara to Africa to assess how they could aid local liberation movements. In 1965, Guevara went to the Congo in an attempt to spark a revolution against the pro-Western regime, which had emerged after the assassination of Lumumba. The problem was, Guevara was without formal military training, and was up against the Congolese, who were aided by US Army Special Forces. So he returned to Cuba and recruited 120 soldiers, taking them back to the Congo. Still, Guevara’s army was no match, and they eventually withdrew in August, 1965.

From the tragicomic epic of Che Guevara in Congo, to the triumph at the battle of Cuito Carnavale in Angola, Cuba: An African Odyssey attempts to understand the world today through the saga of these internationalists who won every battle, but finally lost the war.

Update: The documentary “Cuba, an African Odyssey” is due for general release on 21/01/2008

 

The Century of the Self – Adam Curtis

The Century of the Self is an acclaimed documentary by filmmaker Adam Curtis released in 2002.

“The series (below) is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” – Adam Curtis Continue reading

Democracy Now!

“Today’s world, as we all know, is faced with multiple threats. From whichever angle I look at this menace, I always come to the conclusion that salvation can only come through a profound awakening of man to his own personal responsibility, which is at the same time a global responsibility. Continue reading

Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times

The following film premiered in Tokyo on September 11, 2002 on the first anniversary of the 9.11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The film chronicles the thinking and activism, at that time, of the noted linguist Noam Chomsky, who since the Vietnam War era has been a vocal and consistent critic of the way the United States exercises state power in the world arena. Continue reading

ParEcon: Life After Capitalism

“A great many activists and concerned people ask, quite rightly, what alternative form of social organization can be imagined that might overcome the grave flaws — often real crimes — of contemporary society in more far-reaching ways than short-term reform. Parecon is the most serious effort I know to provide a very detailed possible answer to some of these questions, crucial ones, based on serious thought and careful analysis.” Continue reading

Capitalism Will Eat Itself

Our planet cannot long sustain the momentous worldwide embrace of the manufacture of desires

What is the elephant in all our rooms? It is the global triumph of capitalism. Democracy is fiercely disputed. Freedom is under threat even in old-established democracies such as Britain. Western supremacy is on the skids. But everyone does capitalism. Continue reading