Event: Public Forum April 2019
First published here: https://www.pambazuka.org/democracy-governance/what-authoritarian-populism-and-why-should-it-be-combatted
Like maggots crawling out of a decaying carcass, authoritarian populist parties and politicians have emerged in many parts of the world over the last few years. All of these parties and politicians practice a vile form of politics based on hatred, crass stereotypes, blatant lying, spectacle, bigotry, anti-democracy, misogyny, racism, and militarism.
This brew of toxic politics has been served up as “anti-establishment” and in the interest of the common people by the strongmen that are at the heart of these authoritarian populist movements. In reality such politics are profoundly frightening – they point to the possibility of a future not of hope and greater egalitarianism, but decay, intolerance, enforced inequality through extreme violence and ethnic cleansing. They are, in many ways, the frightening side of identity politics.
First published here: https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/13-03-2019/big-google-is-watching-you/
Danyl Mclauchlan stares into the abyss that is Google and wonders if we are about to experience the birth of a new, even more terrifying capitalism.
I feel it most when I’m at the supermarket. I’m standing there looking at jellymeat but at the same time, I’m aware of being embedded in a web of data and analytics. I’m watched by the store’s security system but doubt any human will ever see the footage. I wonder if my presence – my choices, expressions, conversations – is quantised, aggregated into behavioural datasets, auctioned on prediction markets to vendors and consumer research companies, used to optimise product design, packaging and store layout. I sense that my thoughts and feelings are not my own, that they’re mediated by a vast accumulation of psychology and machine learning. I never knew what to call this feeling: it was just a vague sense of powerlessness; a background paranoia. Shoshana Zuboff calls it surveillance capitalism.
This article positions itself not only outside of the state, but against the state, under the guidance of anarchism as a theory. In it, I hope to give a critical analysis of Zimbabwe and its current state, arguing against simple analysis and going beyond individual politics. Rather, with the use of an anarchist lens, this article will carefully articulate the real underlying problem in Zimbabwe: it is a society governed by a class system, under the control of a predatory state that cannot survive a day without the endless exploitation of its people.
A comprehensive analysis of this nature hopes to make a valid contribution to help organize and educate the masses for a revolution they can claim as their own. A revolution that is specifically against all forms of oppression, and that builds on everyday struggles to improve the deplorable conditions of Zimbabwe. Equally importantly, this article is written in solidarity with the actions of the masses who stood against the violent regime on the 1st of August 2018, and again on the 14th of January 2019, and who fight for a better society. It encourages self-activity and the continuous development revolutionary awareness of the popular classes: the workers and working class, the poor, and the small peasant farmers.
South African and international lefties and progressives are right to condemn the imperialist manoeuvring of the US and defend the right of the Venezuelan people to decide their own political and economic future. However, the mistakes of the past should not be repeated, such as those in the case of Mugabe/ZANU-PF’s Zimbabwe, Ortega/Sandinista’s Nicaragua, Dos Santos/MPLA’s Angola or indeed, the ANC’s South Africa.
The roots of the present political and socio-economic crisis in Venezuela are multi-pronged. 1
They are not, as much of the South African left and the ANC-run government would have it, simply to be found in the long history of imperialist geopolitics and right-wing capitalist rule that preceded the rise to political power of the late Hugo Chavez in 1998 and the pursuit of his accompanying “Bolivarian revolution”.