Photo by: Manny Becerra
CANADA: TRUDEAU DEFENDS USE OF EMERGENCY MEASURES IN CONVOY HEARINGS AS CONVOY 2.0 MIGHT BE ON THE HORIZON
Over a week ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his use of the Emergencies Act during last year’s Freedom Convoy at the Convoy hearings that were set up by a special committee of MPs and Senators.
Trudeau cited the lack of coordination on the part of the movement’s de facto leaders, how the demands were unmeetable and aimless; being about COVID-19 mandate totalitarianism from one moment to reviving Canadian freedoms and rights in the next.
The truth is Trudeau needed to invoke the Act to clear the streets. Saying this isn’t a tacit endorsement of Trudeau or endorsing strict, top-down centralized power; at least it isn’t so long as one doesn’t read the protests as being entirely about vaccines.
This harkens to the dialectic at work in classic psychoanalytic theory between manifest content and latent content. The manifest content of the protests were sticking it to the ostensibly autocratic rule of Ottawa and the puppet strings attached the highest in the Canadian government by the big pharmaceutical industries. All the things present on the signs, “Go Truckers,” “No Vaccines/Mandates,” etc., and in the catchphrases that surrounded the event are the manifest content.
In terms of latent content, that which is hidden behind what’s manifest and hasn’t been unraveled or worked through, things are different. In fact here we can reference Martin Luther King Jr’s wisdom that a riot is the language of the unheard. However Canadian truckers are, on average, better off than African Americans during the Jim Crow era of the United States.
This is where nuance is required. A good way of thinking about protests of the working class is as expressive aimless material discontent ripe for politicization. The rise of broad service-based middle-classness after the industrial revolution has been a sticky issue for Marxism to incorporate into its framework as the old dynamic of the tyrant employer and the penniless workers in horrid factory conditions is not so relevant a depiction anymore.
The point is that while the Convoy appeared to have aims such as “we want the status quo back,” “no more mandates” — the broad appeals to Canadian nationalism and freedom expressed a nostalgic return to the nation-state as that’s been killed by globalist postmodern capitalism as well.
Make no mistake: the Freedom Convoy is an expression of working class frustration and the solutions can only come from changing the very social and material existence of lower-middle income workers — that’s not excluding truckers, retail workers, even decently paid women in boring clerical work — by democratizing workplace enterprises.
Regardless, James Bauder, an organizer of the Convoy last year, is calling for a Convoy 2.0 online which will take place in Ottawa again in February of 2023. If Trudeau doesn’t follow up on invoking the Emergencies Act with effective policy to deal with the current economic turmoil resulting from capitalism’s inability to handle COVID-19, then we will be seeing more of the same old establishment-adjacent bourgeois types smartening up in public while cackling in private at uneducated workers for being anti-science and aimless in their appeals for freedom.
U.S.: JOE BIDEN FORCES RAIL WORKERS OUT OF A STRIKE
The U.S.’s major rail industries are notorious for not even having sick days as part of worker’s contracts, with over 100,000 of the nation’s railway workers without paid sick leave or even guaranteed weekends off.
President Joe Biden helped broker a deal between rail companies and unions which the workers shot down.
Biden then undemocratically drafted legislation that forced the rail workers to take the deal and it passed the House and the Senate in the span of two days. His reasoning is that the economic downfall of the strike would be too disastrous.
An amendment was added by the House to give the workers one of the primary things that they stipulated in their original deal with employers, seven paid sick days. The majority-Republican Senate then proceeded to shoot this amendment down making the bill a solely back-to-work threat. No paid sick days, no paid vacation time.
Squad members such as AOC, Ilhan Omar and Jamaal Brown said “Yea” to passing the legislation, claiming it was part of a strategy to get the amendment through. Rashida Talib was the only member of declared House socialists to vote “Nay” to the legislation in the House. Did Squad members really think this amendment was going to get through in the Senate? Or were they protecting their favour with key center-left democrat voters?
Luke Savage of Jacobin notes how workers at Warren Buffet’s BNSF Railways “are allotted a point balance that diminishes if they’re unavailable for work — even in cases of illness or emergency. Those who reach a balance of zero can incur a ten or twenty-day suspension, with a subsequent zero balance resulting in termination.”
Suddenly, the pro-labour Joe Biden seems to be eating his words.
INTERNATIONAL: MODI, HINDU NATIONALISM AND ASIA’S RICHEST MAN
India has a GDP rank of fifth place in order of global economies.
Over the years the rise of Hindu nationalism has gotten worse under Narandra Modi, the Prime Minister of India.
While this rise of Hindutva — the political ideology of Hindu nationalism which shouldn’t be conflated with Hinduism the religion — has lead to the persecution of Muslim and Christian populations in sections of the country, such as the hijab being banned, it has also lead to class conflict.
Let’s not beat around the bush: The Modi government, the corporate elites and the paramilitary group the RSS form a tight-knit web that’s pushing for new forms of fascist casteism in India.
Modi has his roots in as a member of the paramilitary RSS, which are now the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political and military ally—his Hindutva status is unquestionable.
When the British left India in 1947 the deal was that the Muslim population could leave secular India for the theocracy of Pakistan or they could stay. India’s main opposition party, The Indian National Congress, have been touting secularism that allows a plurality of religious practices for decades. Still, the rise of Hindu nationalism is concerning as Modi’s policies continue to consolidate power in the hands of the corporate elite at the cost of helping billions of regular people.
Take “Asia’s richest man,” Guatam Adani, the billionaire industrialist and owner of Adani Group who has been a longtime friend of Modi, even helping him get to his position as Prime Minister.
Adani’s conglomerate empire has been monopolizing India’s port sector for years now as the 1991 liberalization of India saw the Gujarat Government in 1995 outsourcing managerial ownership of the Mundra Port — India’s largest port — to Adani Group, on top of Adani in this decade starting controversial coal mining projects in Australia among other countries. Now his empire is planning on moving into data sectors.
Currently violent protests are breaking out at India’s Vizhinjam port as local fishermen are worried about Adani Group’s construction creating coastal erosion and disturbing their communal ties.
According to an article by the activist publication Vinavu:
“The true benefactors of the RSS-BJP regime are the corporates; in particular Adani and Ambani. In the last 10 years, the value of assets of Adani rose by 1830% and Ambani by 400%. Modi’s foreign trips had won many international contracts such as coal mines in Australia, power project[s] in Sri Lanka to Adani-Ambani. Adani, who was in the 313rd position in the Hurun global rich list, had moved to the 12 position due to Modi’s efforts (According to Hurun India Report).”
As India continues to drift rightwards, the massive populations beholden to the coastal country and the earth at large are in dire straits.
THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS: JEAN-PAUL SARTRE’S BAD FAITH AND ITS INEFFECTIVENESS IN LATE-CAPITALIST LIFE
Perhaps the most famous philosopher to emerge in post World War II France is Jean-Paul Sarte. From his highly publicized open relationship with the equally great philosopher and leading voice of second wave feminism, Simone De Beauvoir, to his rejecting a Nobel Prize out of worry that it would affect how his writing is received—he was a towering figure in Parisian intellectual life.
Most popularly known for the keystone of his existential philosophy being “Existence precedes essence,” his thoughts on consciousness, existence and being have been canonized in the history of philosophy for good reason. Being and Nothingness, Sartre’s magnum opus, was the first philosophy book my professor suggested to me. It being a dense philosophical tome and my being a puny freshman, I gave up on the idea of reading the whole thing fairly quickly.
It wasn’t until I did select readings of Sartre in a class on existentialism later that I would start to reap the riches of his thought.
In particular, Sartre’s idea of bad faith struck me as an interesting idea.
According to Sartre, we are in bad faith the moment we adopt values that aren’t our own but are given to us by others. This is the secular individualism of his thought because all religion and social custom are thrown into question in this configuration.
To elucidate this Sartre creates a thought experiment wherein a person who is lying about their true beliefs nevertheless acts and speaks as if their lie is truth. Two things happen with this subject: First, she sees that her lie can have the effectivity of a truth in other consciousnesses. Others can believe her lies in themselves but also believe that she believes that they are the truth. The second thing that happens results from the first. Because the lying subject sees this lie work as an effective truth in social and by extension objective ways, she comes to assume all “truths” doing work in the world are predicated on unfounded hand-me-down beliefs.
In a way, this is what in Freudian psychoanalysis is called disavowal [Verleugnung], the “I know that I know, so therefore I don’t know.” This subject who is aware of their received values is operating in bad faith.
The problem with Sartre’s bad faith is precisely diagnosed by one of his contemporaries, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who in his Seminar VII that “Every truth has the structure of a fiction.”
This is, evidently, why Sartre’s notion of bad faith doesn’t make individuals more free in late-capitalism, because advertising is already preaching this to us in order to make more money. We are inundated with slogans telling us to embrace our singular “authenticity,” to be “ourselves.”
The terrifying lesson of Lacanian psychoanalysis is that there is no authentic self, the subject is a void, crossed-out, a traumatic space of irreconcilability. We need a collective fiction to constitute ourselves as subjects. This can be logically demonstrated by the simple tautology created by a group of Sartrean disciples deciding they are all followers of Sartre’s notion of bad faith, they are then collectively against bad faith but they are now subjects for whom not being in bad faith is the common belief holding their shared identity together, and due to this they are precisely now in bad faith apropos Sartre.
Again, in a word, we need collective fictions to be stable-functioning subjects. Sartre’s bad faith is helpful for diagnosing ideological demagoguery in cases resembling Freudian disavowal; for example the ways in which we know the existential crisis of ecological disaster looms over our heads but we don’t wake up in anxiety, we go on with our day—this relative ease of mind is capitalist ideology functioning at its purist.
Basically, Sartre’s bad faith simply can’t be raised to the level of the empty formalism of the Kantian Categorical Imperative of the Law, the formalism that says “You can because you must!” in any given moral dilemma. This doesn’t work in our current capitalism because this paradox is only in service of capital interests to posit us as radically atomized individuals of our own creation.