Lanka & Bolivia, Graphite & Lithium
e-Con e-News 10-15 November 2019
What links the MCC land grab & mineral grab of graphite mines in Karasnagla, announced this week, along the proposed MCC Colombo-Trincomalee corridor? This election-eve ee explains the links between Lanka & Bolivia, Graphite & Lithium… (see Random Notes, also ee Focus, B1 & B3)
If the Presidential vote goes against a favored son of empire, but to a pro-sovereignty government that will not hand over resources, will gangs be unleashed on people? Such terror gangs are evident in, the coup in Bolivia, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.
This ee reproduces a primer to identify early signs of such terrorism, a process Sri Lanka has already somewhat experienced, which this election could perhaps exacerbate or expunge (see ee Focus, 5 Lessons from Bolivia).
People active on social media networks (FB, twitter, instagram) may be targeted, with names provided by the US embassy, etc. The coup plotters in Bolivia were trained at the infamous US Army School of the Americas, that has trained death squads & torturers worldwide. (see ee Sovereignty)
If gangs target opponents here, especially if their rushed favorite is defeated, then, as in HK and Bolivia, the white media and their NGO mouthpieces, including ubiquitous ‘election monitors’ will begin their wailing. (Would the US/EU give us visas to observe their elections?)
Terror gangs would be given free play while the white media and their local muppets cry about ‘electoral fraud & repression’, even as they are the real perpetrators. The white media will praise them as ‘freedom fighters’ as they once called Al Qaeda and the Taliban against the USSR. Meanwhile in other countries where there are truly popular oppositions – Gaza, Iraq, Haiti, Yemen, Bahrain, Chile, France, etc – there is an almost total English media whiteout.
If getting foreign governments to interfere in US national elections is an impeachable offence, then one wonders about those asking for the US/EU to interfere here, as in Bolivia, and Hong Kong.
So get ready… The international (read: white) media is forecasting how they will play the world in the next few days if matters do not go their way here:
• The BBC is already ‘casting doubts’ on the election – just in case…
• Al Jazeera – also known as ‘BBC on a Camel’ – highlights a dubious, possibly setup story: “Sri Lankan author attacked ahead of key presidential polls”
• And here is France’s AFP: “Sri Lanka weighs return to murky past in presidential poll”
• See ee Security, Okama Boru, on the last week of fake media….
• This may be the last ee to carry extensive recording of English economic news about Sri Lanka, showing how our economists are paid slaves repeating the white man’s nonsense about the need for exports, FDI, balancing payments, selling off government enterprises, etc, without prioritizing the need for modern industrial production by using local supply chains, and protecting the home market.
•The idiocy of the cry of “export, export, export” alone is exposed in the so-called garment industry. Garments accounted for 44.7% of total export earnings in 2018 in Sri Lanka (see ee Industry). Yet the economists refuse to tell us how much of those earnings go right back out to pay for needles, pins, threads, textiles, chemicals, and machinery – all imported? Check (ee Focus, B4), on how the capitalism seeks to further entrap our economies into their priorities, promising limited access to their markets, while robbing our own markets.
A1. Random Notes – Bolivia’s daring to industrialize thwarted for now by US, EU etc
A2. Reader Comments – Africa & Lanka• Ranil, Hausmann& Coup in Bolivia
A3.Quotes of the Week – Japanese bombs on Easter Sunday too • Dayan on Gothabhaya • Capitalists to Reshape Capitalism • Making Countries Export-Dependent
B. ee Focus
B1. MCC &Graphite – How Plumbago made a few ‘Nobodies’ become ‘Somebodies”
B2. The Coup in Bolivia: 5 lessons
B3. MCC, ACSA, SOFA, Incompatible with International Law – Part 2
B4. Capitalism Plans New Facelift in 2020 – Kyle Bailey
C. News Index
A1. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_________________
• What happened in Bolivia this week makes perfectly evident what ee attempts to elucidate: Bolivia is being prevented from modern production using its own mineral resources, summing up the main opposition to advancing our countries. The same goes for any Sri Lankan government that attempts to process the graphite, etc., instead of selling off abundant resources. This is also what propels white hysteria to the PRC’s “Made-in-China 2025” program.
• The US sprung the coup in Bolivia, just days after Bolivia decided to partner with China to first process its own resources. Over half the world’s Lithium deposits fall within Bolivia, Chile, Argentina (see ee Sovereignty).
“The Morales government announced it was “determined to industrialize Bolivia and has invested huge amounts to ensure that lithium is processed within the country to export it only in value-added form, such as in batteries.” The Morales move on Nov. 4 to cancel the December 2018 agreement with Germany’s ACI Systems Alemania (ACISA) came after weeks of protests from residents of Potosí. The region has 50% to 70% of the world’s lithium reserves in the Salar de Uyuni salt flats… Continued political uncertainty will make it more difficult for Bolivia to increase its production of strategic metals like lithium or develop a value-added sector in the battery market. The poor investment climate comes at a time of expanding global opportunities in lithium-ion battery production to meet rising demand from electric vehicle manufacturing. ACISA told German broadcaster DW last week that the company was “confident that our lithium project will be resumed after a phase of political calmness and clarification.” On Sunday, Morales resigned. Among other clients, ACISA provides batteries to Tesla; Tesla’s stock rose Monday after the weekend…” – https://theantimedia.com/bolivian-coup-comes-less-than-a-week-after-morales-stopped-lithium-deal
• SBD de Silva’s entire work shows how “the export-oriented investment pattern which is now acknowledged to have led into a blind-alley cannot be abstracted from the nature of the dominant class whose interests the export economy served… The process of reincorporation of the periphery has involved an ‘orchestrated shift’ from import substitution to export-oriented industrialization.” (The Political Economy of Underdevelopment).
Bolivia has been “reincorporated” – but for how long?
A2. Reader Comments
• “Re: memes criticizing people who have returned to vote – Isn’t this a shameful way of addressing the millions of people whose toil overseas keeps the economy afloat, enabling such ungrateful arseholes to have a life of affluence? Shame on those spreading muck about people whom they should be worshipping. It is their remittances alone which have allowed development to take place in this country, not the farting around of the moronic Colombo elite.”
• “I read and reflect on last week’s ee and it’s a sad and painful picture ee is painting. How do you see us Africans assisting ee on this side of the great Indian Ocean divide? What can we do to highlight the plight of Sri Lanka? Can you suggest pragmatic moves and actions that can be employed to get Africans to see that their lot is intertwined with the gory political situation of the Sri Lankan people? perhaps starting solidarity group(s). Who to talk to?
Imperialism is not invincible. Empires rise and fall. They are powerful because we let them be. They are just paper tigers, and Vietnam is a good example of how weak and vulnerable they are when their fleeting power is put under the microscope and challenged through a well-orchestrated international action plan.”
• Re: Sri Lanka, Hausmann & Coup in Bolivia – “The same Ricardo Hausmann of the Harvard Kennedy School that steers our economic policies – coz we are so dumb! To whom the gates were opened from 2015 with the change of government! The same Hausmann of Advocata fame that advises the current govt of Ranil W, worshipped by the likes of ‘I’m-no-mudslinger’ Harsha de Silva. The same Advocata that is backed and supported by Eran Wicks of AOG fame. That’s why it’s so important to keep these INGOs under constant surveillance and monitoring, like… prior to 2015 and not let any open-mouthed idiot parroting and sprouting democracy and human rights enter these shores!”
A3.Quotes of the Week_____________________________________
• “The Japanese military raids also took place on an Easter Sunday, in 1942” – see ee Focus, B3
• “Thirdly, as a former critic of Gotabhaya, I have seen at close range how he has changed positively; evolved for the better. His background as a decorated combat officer… educated in several military academies, and as a highly successful developmental bureaucrat of the sort that Premadasa and Sirisena Cooray would have prized, has made him a more thoughtful strategic Realist in all things. This is a man who has matured to the point of being able to rescue and uplift his country if he is elected leader. GR potentially, is our Deng Xiaoping, Putin or Raul Castro. Fourthly, I recall Trotsky’s point about opting even for ‘the devil’s grandmother’ in certain circumstances. Even if everything critical I said about Gota in 2014 were as relevant now as then and were to come true under a GR presidency, I would unhesitatingly choose Gota over Ranil-Mangala-CBK and the treasonous disaster they are visiting upon this country, just as the Russian citizenry unhesitatingly referred Putin to the national disaster of the Yeltsin policies, the Filipinos preferred Duterte, the Turkish preferred Erdogan, and the Indians, Modi.– Dayan Jayatilleka, March 12, 2017
• “First, they demanded a recount; then, cried fraud and called for new elections; finally insisting on elections without Evo – as in Brazil, without Lula.”
• ‘The “new self-proclaimed” President of Bolivia says: “I dream of a Bolivia free of indigenous satanic rituals; the city is not for Indians. They need to go to Altiplano or Chaco (the high plains and a desert).”Bolivia is 64% indigenous.’
• “A leading fraction of the capitalist class has cohered around a hegemonic project of economically ‘long-term’, socially ‘inclusive’, and ecologically ‘sustainable’ capitalism as the apparent solution to the system’s multidimensional and overdetermined organic crisis.” – see ee Focus, B4
• “Their goal is to cement a renewed class alliance within the power bloc – a new form of finance capital – in which asset owners, asset managers& industrial corporations collectively reshape capital markets in the name of subordinating labour, nature and society to the financialized logic of global capital accumulation.”– see ee Focus, B4
• “The networks of transnational production as well as finance [have] more than ever linked other capitalist states and economies to US capitalism’s central place in global capitalism. This was seen in the extent to which other countries’ exports depended on access to the US consumer market, and in the increasingly integrated production networks that emanated from US MNCs’ foreign direct investment, on the one hand, and the flow of global investment into the US itself on the other.’
… ‘The ambitious project for the making of global capitalism, imbricated in the US empire and first articulated during WWII, was realized in the last two decades of the 20th century. This historic development was ideologically celebrated under the rubric of neoliberalism – a set of ideas explicitly designed to make people clearly aware of their own & their states’ structural dependence on capitalist markets. In practice this involved states actively engaged in broadening the reach and deepening the meaning of “free trade,” so that ever more facets of life became subject to market relations, and more and more subject to the discipline of the free movement of capital across national borders.’ – The Making Of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire, by Leo Panitch & Sam Gindin
B. Special Focus____________________________________________
B1. MCC & Graphite – How Plumbago made some ‘Nobodies’ become ‘Somebodies’…
• Graphite graphically illustrates the criminal silences of economists, merchants & their media
Economic ignorance or mischief is blatantly evident also in the continued selling off of graphite – rather than processing it here (see ee Industry). Our graphite saved the English navy from German torpedoes in their 1st World War. Just as our rubber saved English and US troops in their WW2.
News this week proclaims “Ceylon Graphite’s subsidiary Sarcon wins environmental protection license for K1 graphite mining project in Sri Lanka”, noting: “Ceylon Graphite is developing graphite mines in historic resource jurisdictions in Sri Lanka. The company holds exploration rights over a land package of around 121 sq.km. This land package has a rich past: it represents the majority of known historic graphite resources in Sri Lanka, with production dating back to the 1920s!” (see: http://www.colombopage.com/archive_19B/Nov12_1573564534CH.php)
• “In the last 5 years, investors discovered lithium and the rare earths. What will be the next big thing? The answer is graphite. Graphite has traditionally been considered a boring, mundane industrial mineral, evoking thoughts of pencils, golf clubs and tennis racquets… Traditional demand for graphite in the steel and automotive industries is growing 5% annually, and graphite prices have tripled. New applications such as heat sinks in computers, lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells, and nuclear and solar power are all big users of graphite. These consumers are beginning to place substantial demands on existing production – and over 70% of that production is from China, which is no longer selling this resource cheaply to the rest of the world as the country’s easy-to-mine, near-surface deposits are becoming exhausted.
Graphite’s criticality and potential scarcity has been recognized by both the US and the EU which have each declared graphite a supply-critical mineral. Recently, the British Geological Survey ranked graphite right behind the rare earths and substantially ahead of lithium in terms of supply criticality. Clearly, there is much more to graphite than pencils.”
• What is the link between the MCC land grab and mineral grab of graphite mines in Karasnagla on the proposed MCC Colombo-Trincomalee corridor already underway?! Sri Lanka’s graphite is high-high grade and high value, no doubt a reason for MCC’s ardent interest in Lanka. Is this why the environmental authority in SL is giving away mining licenses to a foreign company on the eve of an election? Was there an international tender process or due diligence to ascertain extent and best value for the citizens of Lanka for our graphite?
Karasnagla is said to be the largest graphite mine after the Kahatagaha and Bogala Mines. GSMB stated that Sarcon Development Pvt Ltd has begun excavation work of the Karasnagala Mine. Royalties of around 7% of the export of graphite is for the Government.
Who is this company Sarcon and Ceylon Graphite, and who is behind it? How does it access mineral sands in Sri Lanka, and was there an open tender process for this mine located on the MCC Colombo-Trinco corridor? It is evident, the global mining industry is setting up shop – who will profit from this transfer of mineral-rich lands?
On August 27, Sri Lanka’s mining regulator, the Geological Survey & Mines Bureau (GSMB), granted the industrial mining license category A to Canada’s Vancouver-based Ceylon Graphite Corp’s wholly owned subsidiary Sarcon Development.
“The license is the highest category license in Sri Lanka and grants the company exclusive rights to mine, process and trade in graphite mined within the project area.” “Historically the GSMB has granted just 4 IMLA licenses for graphite mining in Sri Lanka.” (http://island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=209687)
Shares of Ceylon Graphite (CEO Bharat Parashar) gained 4% at C$0.13 in Toronto, immediately after the announcement. Graphite mined in Lanka is known to be some of the world’s purest, currently accounting for less than 1% of world graphite production. One report notes it has “99.9997% Cg Battery Ready Crystalline Graphite Confirmed with Testing”. (https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/cyl.v/)
It’s also reported, the US Geological & Mines Bureau has mapped the mineral deposits to a depth of 200m…
US hunting minerals – Graphite is used not just for pencils (which we import!)
Natural graphite is currently not extracted in the US, so firms are entirely dependent on foreign sources. Secondly, graphite is one of the materials essential to certain components in electronics, clean energy and battery technologies, as well as US defense equipment and systems. Thirdly, China, now considered a major geopolitical rival to the US, is a significant supplier to the US market. With trends such as these across numerous critical materials, it shouldn’t be surprising the US govt is seeking to reduce the risk associated with 35 minerals deemed critical to the US economy and defense sector.
“Graphite: Critical for clean energy and defense technologies. While graphite still serves traditional applications like steel making, use of graphite in clean technologies – particularly lithium-ion battery storage and in the defense industry – are expected to be a significant future driver of production.” [Graphite is also used as a lubricant in aerospace & other such applications – ee]
In 2017, global natural graphite production was largely dominated by China with 780mn tons, or 67%. In 2013-16 China supplied 35% of US natural graphite consumption. In 2017, nearly 50,000 tons of graphite was used for steel, lubricants, powdered metals etc in the US. Though the US imports all its natural graphite supply, it manufactures synthetic graphite, produced from refinery petroleum coke.
Since foreign dependency on material inputs are seen as risks to the US economy and defense sector, like oil, this has become a key influencer of US national security and foreign policy. So the US is now turning attention to materials like rare earth minerals, vanadium, gallium, and natural graphite.
It is clear residents don’t profit from transfer of mineral-rich lands: “The proposed Karasnagala water supply project inaugurated in 2016 with much pomp and pageantry has been stalled for a long time. It was to be completed in 2019. It was expected to provide drinking water to 449 Grama Niladahri areas in 5 divisions of Gampaha, Attanagalla, Minuwangoda, Mirigama and Mahara in Gampaha District. Residents said they were ‘facing hardship for want of drinking water’ and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board was not in a position to meet the increasing demand for drinking water. They pointed out that the garden wells in the area had run dry…” (http://www.dailymirror.lk/front_page/Karasnagala-water-supply-project-stalled/238-163801)
Curiously, a Ceylon Daily News item said the main investor in 2012 was Plumbago Refining Corp BV, and Sarcon Development, registered in Curacao, an offshore money laundering tax haven in the Caribbean, with Canadian links.
The BOI then signed with Sarcon Development for a project in graphite mining and processing, an agreement first entered into to conduct a geological survey for graphite exploration. The agreement was signed by Anura Jayasinghe and Sanjeewa Wickramanayak, Board Members on behalf of the BOI and by the Chairman of Sarcon Development (Pvt), Anuka Bandula Anthony Soza, who initiated the project with Jim Ratnam, Chairman of Assignments (Pvt) Ltd. Jody Paul Lenihan from Canada will be Chairman and Managing Director of Sarcon Development representing Plumbago Refining Corp BV. The main investor, Plumbago Refining Corp BV is registered in Curacao. This is the first company in Sri Lanka that will engage in value addition of graphite for export. Initially US$15.2mn would be invested in the project, and the company would pay a mere 5 % of the extracted graphite value to the GSMB – “bringing revenue to the country”! At the cost of selling out the country once again…
B2. The Coup in Bolivia: 5 lessons – Atilio Borón
The Bolivian tragedy eloquently offers us lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and record in our consciousness forever.
Here is a brief list, as events develop, a prelude to a more detailed analysis in the future.
First: No matter how well the economy is managed in an exemplary fashion, as the Evo government did – with growth, redistribution, investment all assured, and all macro and microeconomic indicators improved – the rightwing & imperialism will never accept a govt that does not serve their interests.
Second: Manuals published by various agencies in the US, and their spokespeople disguised as academics or journalists, must be studied, so we recognize signs of an offensive in time.
These writings invariably highlight the need to destroy the reputation of popular leaders, with accusations of misappropriation, corruption, dictatorial behaviour & ignorance, which in the specialized jargon is known as character assassination.
This task is entrusted to social communicators, self-proclaimed “independent journalists,” who given their quasi-monopoly control of the media drill such defamations into the brains of the population, accompanied, as seen in this case, by hateful comments directed toward native peoples and the poor in general.
Third: Once the aforementioned has begun, next come rightwing political leaders and economic elites demanding “a change,” an end to Evo’s “dictatorship,” who, as the unpresentable Vargas Llosa wrote a few days ago, is a “demagogue who wants to eternalize his term in power.” [Nobel Prize winner & Peru Presidential candidate Llosa wished to put up a fence around Lima to keep the ‘dirty Indians’ out – ee]
I suppose he is toasting with champagne in Madrid, watching coverage of the fascist hordes looting, burning, chaining journalists to posts, cutting a female mayor’s hair and covering her with red paint, destroying result reports from the last election, fulfilling the mandates of Don Mario, freeing Bolivia from an evil demagogue.
I mention this case because Vargas has been, & is, the immoral standard bearer of this vile attack, a horrendous crime that has crucified a popular leadership, destroyed democracy, and established a reign of terror run by hired gangs, to punish a worthy people who have the audacity to seek freedom.
Fourth: “Security forces” now enter the scene. In this case we are talking about institutions controlled by numerous military & civilian agencies of the US government.
These professionals train the local forces, arm them, conduct joint exercises and educate them politically. I had the opportunity to verify this when, on Evo’s invitation, I presented a course on anti-imperialism for high-ranking officers in the nation’s 3 armed forces.
On this occasion, I was horrified by the degree of penetration, among these individuals, of the most reactionary US slogans, inherited from the Cold War era, and by the open irritation they felt given the fact that the country had an indigenous President.
What these “security forces” did was to withdraw from the scene & leave the field open for the uncontrolled action of fascist hordes – like those in Ukraine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria – to overthrow leaders who annoyed the empire – or attempt to do so, in the last case – and thus intimidate the population, activists, and government figures themselves.
In other words, a new socio-political phenomenon: a military coup “by default,” letting reactionary gangs, recruited and financed by the right, impose their rule. Once terror reigns, and the government is defenseless, the outcome is inevitable.
Fifth: Bolivia’s security & public order should never have been entrusted to institutions such as the police and the Army, colonized by imperialism and its lackeys in the national rightwing.
When the offensive against Evo was launched, a policy of appeasement and not responding to the provocations of fascists was chosen.
This served to embolden the rightwingers and increase their confidence. First, they demanded a recount; then, cried fraud & called for new elections; finally insisting on elections without Evo – as in Brazil, without Lula.
Last, Evo’s resignation. Given his refusal to accept the blackmail, terror was sowed with the complicity of police and the military, forcing Evo to resign. By the book, straight from the book. Will we learn these lessons?
B3. MCC, ACSA, SOFA, Incompatible with International Law – Part 2
by Tamara Kunanayakam, former Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva
Threat to peace and security – Sri Lanka is committing itself not to defending its own national interests, its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, but to combating threats to “US prosperity and security,” which are named in National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defense Strategy(NDS) as the “revisionist powers” China and Russia, the “rogue regimes” North Korea and Iran, and ‘transnational terrorism.’ None of the countries mentioned pose a threat to Sri Lanka’s national interests. On the contrary, Sri Lanka has excellent relations with all 4 countries within the framework of the UN and close bilateral ties with China, Russia and Iran.
However, the ‘defense’ agreements involve the use of Sri Lanka’s territory, airports, harbours, defense installations, and infrastructure, for transport of military equipment, training and joint operations with Sri Lankan forces, and other activities, known and unknown, to “enhance joint lethality” in preparation for an act of aggression against one or more friendly states in the ‘Indo-Pacific’. In doing so, Sri Lanka will find itself a partner in crime and potential target of reprisal or retaliation, posing a grave threat to Sri Lanka’s security.
It was not so long ago that British occupied Ceylon was targeted by Japanese bombs, during WWII, characterized by the independence movement as an imperialist war, which resulted in the panicked fleeing of civilian population to India by boat. The Japanese military raids also took place on an Easter Sunday, in 1942.
The threat to Sri Lanka’s security will not only come from outside. When US forces are permitted to freely roam the land, in their vehicles, without permission, armed, in uniform and with impunity, Easter Sunday type carnage or protests against US occupation could result in Sri Lanka itself becoming US’s military target in the name of “self-defense”.
Bilateral agreements, inherently unequal – The so-called “partnership” entered into with Washington is not between equals. Bilateral agreements between a global hegemonic power and a small developing country heavily indebted to international capital markets dominated by the power and highly dependent on its market for exports, are inherently unequal.
Since the Bush Administration’s ‘War on Terror,’ which coincided with emerging powers challenging US hegemony, it has increasingly resorted to preventive and pre-emptive unilateral interventions imposing decisions on weaker states or to bilateralism with significantly weaker states to establish US-led collective defense systems (or “collective self-defense” systems), which allow Washington to modify international norms and rules or impose decisions not in accordance with international law, thus, retaining its hegemonic status.
ACSA, SOFA and MCC are pre-existing institutional arrangements that are an integral part of the US national security and national defense strategies designed for ‘US Self-Preservation’ to achieve strategic US goals and objectives “grounded in the realization that American principles are a lasting force for good in the world” (US NSS, 2017). ‘US Self-Preservation’ is rooted not on reciprocal relationships between equal subjects of international law, but on combating a threat to its own interests. Its sheer hegemonic power makes the principle of reciprocity impracticable in bilateral negotiations with weaker states such as ours, and it is illusory to believe that ACSA, SOFA and MCC can be “re-negotiated” or “amended” for “mutual benefit”.
Historically, bilateralism is associated with the commercial policies of Hitler’s Germany; it is inherently discriminatory in contrast to the system of collective security based on the UN Charter. The US shift to bilateralism is also reflected in its free trade and economic agreements as an important tool to coerce or reward potential allies and partners to support its geopolitical agenda….
…The Non-Aligned Movement and the principles on which it is based remain valid in a world that continues to be dominated by wars of aggression, foreign occupation and domination, unilateralism, coercion, intervention and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and in which the victims are from the global south and the perpetrators, the US and its Western allies.
Sri Lanka’s decision to go to war if necessary for the preservation of the USA against an emerging power identified with the developing world, and the threat this poses to the interests of friendly nations and to the multilateral collective security system that NAM is committed to strengthening, will result in the loss of Sri Lanka’s credibility and its increasing isolation from the majority in the United Nations.
An isolated country is more vulnerable and easy prey to a global hegemon.
International agreements incompatible with UN Charter are null and void– International agreements that are incompatible with the international obligations of the State under the Charter of the United Nations and impede the fulfilment of the purposes and principles of the UN, in accordance with the Charter, are null and void under international law. Besides, secret treaties are incompatible with the UN Charter and unenforceable.
ACSA, SOFA&MCC violate Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and undermine its ability to fulfil its international obligation to protect its population and ensure respect for a broad range of their individual and collective rights: the right to determine the system best suited for their needs and aspirations; the right to exercise permanent sovereignty over their wealth and resources, including maritime resources; their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights; the right to development; the right to a clean and safe environment; and, the fundamental right to peace and to be free from war…
B4. Capitalism Plans New Facelift in 2020 – Kyle Bailey
In the wake of the 2007-8 financial crash, the mainstream debate has not focused on the choice between socialism or barbarism, but rather on ‘reinventing capitalism’ – Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, at the launch of ‘We Mean Business’ at the NYC Climate Week in 2014.
Faced with a populist ‘other’ ranging from ‘Trump and Brexit’ to the popular but as-yet-ill-defined ‘socialism’ of Corbyn and Sanders, the liberal bourgeoisie in the Atlantic heartland of the global political economy has sought to reassert its waning hegemony by way of a resurgent capitalist internationalism. They fear that neoliberal globalization’s intensifying legitimation crisis will lead the growing masses ‘left behind’ by economic stagnation, social inequality, and environmental injustice to ‘scapegoat’ the capitalist system by embracing the ‘totalitarianism’ of the radical left or extreme right.
In response, a leading fraction of the capitalist class has cohered around a hegemonic project of economically ‘long-term’, socially ‘inclusive’& ecologically ‘sustainable’ capitalism as the apparent solution to the system’s multidimensional & overdetermined organic crisis.
Economically ‘long-term’ means empowering ‘non-financial’ corporate executives and their managerial cadres against ‘the capitalist threat to capitalism’ posed by financial short-termism. Socially ‘inclusive’ means responsibility to multiple stakeholders, rather than just to shareholders. And ecologically ‘sustainable’ means something like a Green New Deal for global neoliberalism.
Corporate Social Responsibility & Finance-led Accumulation
The broad contours of this project can be gleaned by examining the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and finance-led industrial restructuring under neoliberalism.
With a lineage dating to 19th century corporate giants like Carnegie, Rockefeller& Ford – the so-called ‘Foundations of the US Century’ – and Lever, Boots& Cadbury in the UK, CSR has more recently been associated with the ‘Third Way’ project of neoliberal capitalist globalization with a ‘human face’.
Following the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and the EU, alongside growing US – emerging markets integration, 1992-2007 saw a second wave of institutional restructuring in the capitalist world system designed to ‘lock in’ the neoliberal economic reforms of the 1980s.
Whereas the finance-led industrial restructuring of the 1980s enabled multinational corporations (MNCs) to restore profitability by defining their ‘core’ competences and divesting from non-core businesses, this new wave of restructuring prioritized expanding what remained of the core through new investments, the emulation of US corporate governance practices, &restructuring of corporate supply chains.
In contrast to traditional CSR and philanthropy, which target areas outside the corporate core, finance-led restructuring has seen the growing integration of CSR and sustainability initiatives into the core operations of MNCs. Intended to augment the core capabilities of particular firms, integrated CSR remains grounded in the ‘practical realities’ of big business. The less autonomy CSR initiatives acquire from the core operations, the better.
The Road from Rio – Understanding the evolution of integrated CSR requires examining how capitalist states have sought to incorporate MNCs, & UN agencies into flexible and networked forms of multistakeholder ‘global governance’ congruent with the reproduction requirements of the post-Fordist global economy, and thus to organize them into social forces capable of assuming greater responsibility for reproducing and legitimizing neoliberal capitalist globalization.
Firstly, as the UN struggled to retain its legitimacy in a ‘post-Westphalian’ world, it called for ‘global partnerships for sustainable development’ with all sectors of civil society in the run-up to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. With the Cold War officially over, this expanded notion of development as entailing an ethical commitment to nature and society provided a renewed Malthusian justification for Western foreign policy interests and a global system of market-based inequality as the only means of forestalling global resource depletion and the ‘tragedy of the commons’.
Secondly, faced with a growing ‘anti-globalization’ backlash, a high-profile group of MNCs went beyond defensive posturing and ‘greenwash’ in order to actively shape the CSR reform agenda ‘from above’. Among them were industrial giants like BP, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Ford, IKEA, Migros, Rio Tinto, Shell, Tata, Toyota, Unilever, as well as banks, institutional investors, accountancy and auditing firms, credit rating agencies engaged in ‘socially responsible’ investing, reporting, certification.
Seeking more legitimate ties with governments, NGOs, trade unions, universities and UN agencies, business organizations such as the World Economic Forum, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development cultivated notions of ‘corporate citizenship’, ‘stakeholder value’ and ‘partnership’ as the basis for rebranding themselves as major public international organizations & NGOs rather than as private ‘merchants’.
A key milestone in this process of forging ‘win-win’ solutions through public – private and business – NGO partnerships was the creation of the UN Global Compact with big business. Announced at the 1999 World Economic Forum meeting by Kofi Annan – whom Perry Anderson once described as the ‘academically dim son of a manager for Unilever in colonial Ghana’ – the Compact remains the world’s largest voluntary CSR initiative, having been pitched as a ‘coalition to make globalization work for all’.
Thirdly, disillusioned with the inability of capitalist states to curb environmental destruction after Rio, NGOs seized the apparent ‘opportunities’ afforded by neoliberal globalization and the ‘retreat of the state’ by embracing market-based, voluntary strategies for regulating corporate behaviour.
The neocolonialist World Wildlife Fund led the way constructing multistakeholder global partnerships for sustainable development, including the Forest Stewardship Council launched with B&Q in 1993, the Marine Stewardship Council co-founded as a joint venture with Unilever in 1996, and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil established with Swiss retailer Migros in 2003.
Surpassing mere co-optation by big business, this strategic shift reflected the growing corporatization of NGO activism, blurring the boundary between NGOs and MNCs in a similar way to the emergence of ‘activist companies’ such as The Body Shop.
More fundamentally, it presupposed the broad shift from ‘producer’ to ‘consumer’ politics inaugurated by the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution’s smashing of the labour movement. Whereas producer politics expressed the collective power and organization of the working class, the advent of consumer politics marked its effective decomposition, disorganization, atomization.
These 3 sets of examples serve to illustrate how the ongoing dialectical interactions among corporations, NGOs and public agencies have transformed the interests and identity of each while leaving capitalist social relations fundamentally unaltered.
From Rio to Paris
Faced with new social, political, and market pressures after the financial crisis, in our post-Occupy world even the CEOs of the largest corporations admit that capitalism has lost legitimacy and needs to be ‘saved from itself’.
Perhaps the most articulate spokesperson for this fraction of capital is Paul Polman, who championed a supposedly long-term, multistakeholder and inclusive form of capitalism while CEO of Unilever 2009-19, representative of big business on the UN High Level Panel which devised the Sustainable Development Goals in 2012, Chair of the WBCSD 2012-17, and since 2018 as Chair of the ICC and Vice-Chair of the Global Compact.
Arguing that capitalism requires a ‘new [socially embedded] corporation’ in order to ‘evolve’ and ‘focus on the long-term’, Polman abolished quarterly earnings guidance for shareholders and implemented the 10-year Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, currently the most ambitious example of integrated CSR yet undertaken by a large firm. In 2014, he stated, without irony, that Unilever is ‘the world’s biggest NGO… The only difference is, we’re making money so we are sustainable’.
Polman is also a leading member of two groups promoting ‘long-term capitalism’. The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism began as an initiative of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society co-chaired by Dominic Barton – the UK-based Global Managing Director of McKinsey and key long-term economic strategist to the Trudeau government – and Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild – a New Jersey-born Democratic Party insider who married into the Rothschild banking dynasty after being introduced to Sir Evelyn de Rothschild by Henry Kissinger at the 1998 Bilderberg conference and spent her honeymoon being hosted by the Clintons at the White House. Motivated by a ‘progressive’ anti-communism, the Coalition aims to empower corporations to better articulate the ‘long-term value’ they create for shareholders and stakeholders. Its first conference, co-hosted by the City of London in 2014, included companies accounting for over $30-trillion in investable assets – one third of the global total – and speeches by Bill Clinton, Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Larry Summers, Arianna Huffington, and HRH The Prince of Wales.
A week after Kraft Heinz’s aborted hostile takeover of Unilever in February 2017, 10 CEOs representing the Coalition gathered at Unilever House on London’s Victoria Embankment to launch the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism, which seeks to formulate new metrics for measuring and reporting long-term value creation related to non-financial performance, ‘intangible’ assets, and social and environmental impacts.
Focusing Capital on the Long-Term was formed in 2013 as an outgrowth of collaboration between Barton and Mark Wiseman – the President and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board created in 1997 to reorient the CPP toward financial markets. FCLT Global decries the problems of quarterly capitalism and seeks to ‘change the investment strategies and approaches of the players who form the cornerstone of our capitalist system: the big asset owners’. In 2018, Wiseman left CPPIB to join his wife at BlackRock – Unilever’s largest shareholder – which, like the CPP, is heavily invested in the military & fossil fuels.
So-called ‘sustainable finance’ is also central to the Green New Deal, which, for big business at least, promises to reboot and relegitimize a stagnant world economy through the roll out of new green technology and infrastructure. Just as MNCs sought to hegemonize the Rio process, so too have they sought to shape the post-crisis reform agenda before, during, and after the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan Advisory Council includes the former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, as well as Avaaz founder Ricken Patel, Forum for the Future co-founder Jonathan Porritt, Kavita Prakash-Mani from WWF Markets, and Harvard’s John Ruggie – another Democratic Party insider and the intellectual architect of the UN Global Compact.
Chaired by Polman and including Figueres among its 27 ‘visionary’ leaders and CEOs, Richard Branson’s B Team is united under the slogan of ‘People, Planet, Profit’. The Team is managed by Avaaz co-founder and former McKinsey consultant Jeremy Heimans – a purveyor of ‘hollowed out’ activism in the guise of his ‘New Power’ methodology for ‘flexible’, ‘networked’, and ‘leadership’ mass-movement building.
Under Polman’s chairmanship, the WBCSD elaborated principles for carbon pricing and trading, announced its support for carbon capture and storage, and led the Natural Capital Coalition’s international consortium for the creation of a Natural Capital Protocol, which aims to conserve and enhance the world’s ‘natural capital’.
The WBCSD is also a driving force behind the We Mean Business coalition. Launched one week before the New York People’s Climate March in 2014, We Mean Business is a united front made up of Business for Social Responsibility, Carbon Disclosure Project, CERES, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders’ Group, and the WBCSD. The coalition calls for world leaders to agree a market-based plan for fighting climate change and claims the Paris Agreement will unlock over $13-trillion in new investment.
And there’s more to come. Next year’s WEF Annual Meeting will focus on stakeholder capitalism and the Paris agreement. Complementing the Business Roundtable’s recent statement redefining the purpose of a corporation as promoting ‘an economy that serves all Americans’ rather than just shareholders, the WEF’s governing bodies – which include the likes of B Team member Marc Benioff, Mark Carney, Chrystia Freeland, Al Gore, Christine Lagarde, Ursula von der Leyen, as well as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Royal DSM Chairman & Unilever Advisory Director Feike Sybesma – will also publish a universal ‘ESG scorecard’ to update its 1973 ‘Davos Manifesto’.
Conclusion – In an era of renewed class conflict marked by growing support for as-yet-ambiguous socialist alternatives, this new ‘progressive capitalism’ is seen by the ruling class as the last, best hope for restoring confidence in the system. Appealing to societal fairness and responsibility rather than economic acquisitiveness and aspiration, it aims to redefine neoliberalism as a progressive, dynamic force for reform in response to its own crisis – a nostalgic ‘technocratic populism’ that mobilizes the masses behind the CEOs, managers, and ‘experts’ who apparently know best.
Although typically presented in crypto-Polanyian fashion as an effort to impose limits on the capitalist market by ‘re-embedding’ unsustainable finance in nature and society, those preaching the CSR gospel are in fact the fiercest advocates of abolishing all such limits. Their goal is to cement a renewed class alliance within the power bloc – a new form of finance capital – in which asset owners, asset managers, and industrial corporations collectively reshape capital markets in the name of subordinating labour, nature, and society to the financialized logic of global capital accumulation.
Moreover, big business’ strategy of colonizing the ‘public’ world of governments, NGOs& international organizations has blurred the boundary between the public & private spheres. By seeking to ‘stakeholderize’ every conflict, MNCs embrace their critics in what Guardian journalist George Monbiot describes as ‘a dialogue that is open in the sense a lobster pot is open, breaking down critical distance and identity until no one knows who they are any more’. In this way, the new inclusive capitalism functions first and foremost to pre-empt, co-opt, and neutralize demands for more radical transformation advocated by labour and social movements – a strategy consciously designed to split the left by giving ‘progressives’ the ideological ammunition they need to embrace the system.
If the Left today is to advance beyond ‘Third Way’ social democracy’s embrace of financialized global capitalism, it therefore cannot settle for a more or less progressive capitalism that merely compensates those ‘left behind’ by neoliberalism at the margins, but must pose genuine worker-centred socialist alternatives – a dual social and ecological revolution that fundamentally transforms the exploitative capitalist system which generates these inequalities, degradations, and oppressions in the first place.
Kyle Bailey, Politics PhD candidate, York University, Toronto
C. News Index______________________________________________
C1. Sovereignty (ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• Chagie concerned over US moves here, faults govt over Geneva failure
‘”Politicians caused wars. They also bring wars to an end,” frontline officer and strategist in wartime Army Chief General Fonseka’s team said.’
• Jaffna University student council opposes TNA decision to back SP
“The students say Premadasa has not responded to the 13 demands made by 5 different parties representing the North and East. The student council played pivotal role in formulating the 13 demands and enlisting the support of the 5 Tamils parties for them.”
• No Debate on 13 Demands?
‘Opposition parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena proposed a debate on the 13 demands put out by the 5 Tamil parties… This triggered an argument between Mahinda Samarasinghe and Sumanthiran. “You say you have nothing to do with it. However, your party has been a signatory,” declared Samarasinghe. He added the TNA should publicly deny if they were not associated with the demands. Sumanthiran insisted there was no need for a statement since they had “nothing to do with it.” Quite clearly Sumanthiran was embarrassed.’
• TNA endorsed LTTE call for boycotting 2005 presidential on behalf of Prabhakaran
“It also recognised the LTTE, which did not have representation even in a single local government institution, as the sole representative of the Tamil people.”
• ‘Either Chandrika is crazy or we are’– Mahinda
“Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga may be attempting to grant what Velupillai Prabhakaran asked for through Sajith Premadasa, according to Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.”
• I exchanged 42 letters with Prabhakaran: CBK
… at an election rally of Sajith Premadasa at the Veerasingam hall in Jaffna.
• Northern Governor meets DMK Leader
• NPP assures Tamil people their language identity
• Naseby disclosure not discussed at all during Lord Ahmad’s recent visit to Colombo-BH
“Dr. Bandara said that he was quite surprised major political parties represented in parliament conveniently left out Geneva issue out of their presidential poll campaigns.”
• Law under Millennium “Grant”
“I was Commissioner of Title Settlement some 30 years ago, and can certify that this Yankee go at our country would be far worse in its operation than even the Brits’ instruments of theft – the Waste Lands Ordinance and the Crown Lands Ordinance.”
• MCC Compact should conform to the Constitution
• FR petitions against MCC Agreement fixed for support on Jan 31
• Waduge’s Summary Survey: USA’s Hands in SL Politics, 1950s-2019
• USA’s Imperialist Advances by Stealth? Goodness Gracious Me!
• Daya Gamage, in response to Thuppahi Invitation to Address Shenali Waduge’s Memo
“At any given moment, there were at least 25 Peace Corps volunteers in Sri Lanka. These youths were usually graduate students, but there were also a few postgrad students. They were highly protected by the US diplomatic mission in Colombo; no official, politician, civil society activists were allowed to meet them or engaged in any discourse. They were posted to very rural areas in order to encourage English education and other academic work. They were quite knowledgeable regarding the socio-political-economic atmosphere, trends and developments in the localities they worked in. They never interfered in affairs of the institutions, whether govt or other, in the localities they were assigned to. It was amazing the interpretive knowledge they had. Many of these PC personnel displayed had the knack of gathering hard-to-get information. The US diplomatic mission in Colombo never allowed them exposed to ‘interested persons or groups’. Embassy officials maintained contact with them and assure their safety and well-being during their tenure of approximately 18 to 24 months.”
• Millennium Challenge Compact – a Distilled Picture from Welikala
• MCC: AKD opposes land section of compact
‘Dissanayake says MCC agreement is not a “bogeyman” as the opposition wants the people to believe.’
• Country will save Rs1.8tn from MCC funded transport sector improvements alone: Finance Minister
• Cabinet stamp does not make MCC Compact legal – Amunugama
• Would Lanka dare take the mega Millennium Challenge?
‘Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who presently pretends to be perturbed over the MCC agreement and leased out over 5,000 acres of land in Somawathiya, 2,000 acres in Polwatte, and some 100s of acres in Iginimitiya to US companies for a song.Anura Dissanayake claimed “former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa had planned to sell all 14 islands off Kalpitiya on the eve of the last presidential election. Two islands were sold to 2 companies in Denmark and India…The US is building up a network, the Asian & Pacific Strategy to counter the growing Chinese threat in the region with its Road Belt…US Ambassador to SL Alaina Teplitz, at a meeting with the Malwatte Mahanayake on May 24 dismissed popular reports that the US was planning military base. She, however, confirmed that if agreement about SOFA was reached between the 2 nations, the arrangement would be “to allow US forces to tour the country to conduct combine security operations… such steps were very important to strengthen the security of the country as well as to strengthen other sectors”.’
• MCC: Empowerment or Entrapment?
“Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera scoffed at the fasting Ven Kashyapa, in a Twitter post, as a stooge of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who ate Lemon Puff (biscuits) in secret during his fast. However, his ministry sent the monk a copy of the MCC document after he had ended the fast. The monk later said pages 12, 13 & 14 had been deleted (the same mentioned above in this article containing controversial clauses), but he had studied the MCC draft in full before he sat down for the fast.”
• For MCC Compact
“There are 16 airports (including BIA, China Bay) spread almost all over the island, maintained by the GoSL (SLAF, CAASL), at tremendous cost? Could they not have created a network of ‘Economic Growth Centres’ around these airports, to ensure connectivity, spread the goodness of US more evenly?”
• David hints at Nov 17 jillmart
Streets explode when socio-economic contradictions, personal greed for power and/or hysteria take control. We cannot rule out unrest in Sri Lanka on 17-18 Nov or in the following weeks. If on Nov 17 it becomes known that a count of second preferences is needed, it will be a red-alert for Gota supporters. There will be agitation at street corners and at SLPP gatherings. The grassroots will stir to disrupt or influence the counting. Allegations of fraud will fly like embers in a California wildfire. Plots are possible…attempting to subvert the true result – will lead to interminable chaos since no one will be able to get away with jillmart this time.
• UN decision on peacekeepers: NAM backs Lanka’s protest
“Sri Lanka, with backing from the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, again issued a scathing criticism of the UN over what it called a matter of questionable procedure and unjust treatment by the Dept of Peace Operations”
• PAP must never be afraid to do what is right for Singapore: PM Lee
“Not all Singaporeans agreed with the need for a reserved Presidential Election to ensure minority races in the Republic’s highest office.”
• HK’s protests part of the new great power conflict, but Chile’s are not
“It’s all about the ‘rimland.’ For decades, the US-dominated coastal areas needed to contain great power rivals, but this is now under threat. Hong Kong is one such area, and the protesters are inserting themselves into this conflict by calling for US support…”
• US promoting trouble in HK
In a highly critical speech on Oct 24, 2019, US VP Mike Pence called out Beijing for tightening control over Hong Kong’s freedoms and rights.US Speaker Nancy Pelosi had also recently voiced support of the HK protesters.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said any attempt by the US to interfere in HK affairs is doomed to fail.The remarks came at a sensitive time, with US-China trade talks only recently resuming on Oct 10.
• The coup in Bolivia: 5 lessons
• Top Bolivian coup plotters School of the Americas grads, attachés in FBI police programs
• Bolivia picks Chinese partner for $2.3bn lithium projects
• “After the coup, Tesla’s stock rose astronomically”
Bolivia’s key reserves are in lithium… essential for the electric car. Bolivia claims to have 70% of the world’s lithium reserves… The complexity of the mining and processing has meant Bolivia has not been able to develop the lithium industry on its own. It requires capital,… expertise.
Morales made it clear that any development of the lithium had to be done with Bolivia’s Comibol – its national mining company – and Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) – its national lithium company – as equal partners…China’s Tianqi Lithium Group, which operates in Argentina, was going to make a deal with YLB. Both Chinese investment and the Bolivian lithium company were experimenting with new ways to both mine the lithium and to share the profits… a new social compact for the lithium was unacceptable to the main transnational mining companies. Tesla (US) and Pure Energy Minerals (Cda) both showed great interest in having a direct stake in Bolivian lithium. But they could not make a deal that would take into consideration the parameters set by the Morales govt. Morales himself was a direct impediment to the takeover of the lithium fields by the non-Chinese transnational firms. He had to go.”
• “The Morales government announced it was “determined to industrialize Bolivia and has invested huge amounts to ensure that lithium is processed within the country to export it only in value-added form, such as in batteries.”
• Bolivia coup against Morales opens opportunity for multinational mining companies
“Efforts to get at the metal by multinational mining companies from the US, Canada, South Korea and others have so far largely faltered. A joint venture with a German company was canceled by the Bolivian govt last week over concerns that not enough benefit would go to the indigenous people who live near Uyuni. Chinese and Russian firms have been among the few that have inked deals.”
• Global Condemnation of ‘Appalling’ Coup in Bolivia as Military Forces Morales to Resign
“”In Bolivia there is an ongoing military operation, we reject it, it is similar to those tragic events that bloodied Latin America in the last century,” Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, tweeted”
• Canada backs coup against Bolivia’s President
“In 2012 weeks of protest against Canada’s South American Silver’ mining in central Bolivia – that saw an indigenous activist killed – prompted the Morales govt to nationalize the Vancouver-based company’s mine.”
• Evo Morales of Bolivia Accepts Asylum in Mexico
“Carlos Mesa, a former president who was the losing candidate in the recent presidential election – widely considered fraudulent – said members of the opposition were attempting to appeal to the patriotism of lawmakers who have backed Morales.”
• Evo Morales Is Gone. Bolivia’s Problems Aren’t – NYT Editorial Board
“The country’s growing economy and shrinking inequality propped him up for years. But its democracy and its institutions suffered, and that’s what brought him down.”
• Graphite Mining Key to US National Security Interest
“Late last year, Pres Trump issued an executive order for the development of a federal critical minerals strategy to reduce the risk posed by foreign dependence on 35 minerals. Graphite mining is an area of vast potential as graphite is one of 4 critical minerals currently not produced within the country.”
• France Has Assassinated 22 African Presidents Since 1963
Here is the list of African presidents who have been assassinated by France since 1963.
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance.
• What about April warning?
Former Army Commander Gen Mahesh Senanayake has warned that some extremists loyal to a certain candidate will unleash communal violence against Muslims after the upcoming presidential election. The Sunday Island has quoted Senanayake as saying so at a civil society forum. He has claimed that though he is now in retirement he is still privy to such information. Did Senanayake share with the police information about the impending communal riots before revealing it at a civil society gathering? Have the police recorded a statement from Senanayake on his warning and made an attempt to trace and arrest those who are planning ethnic violence? If not, why? What one gathers from Senanayake’s warning is that he still has access to intelligence reports in spite of being in Civvy Street. If so, would he explain why he had not been aware that the NTJ was making preparations for the Easter attacks, while he was the army commander?
• Liars and Lies damned lies (Okama Boru)
• Sri Lanka Attorney General blocks publication of EPF, bond, forensic audits
• Amid protest, Rishad forced to skip hotel school opening
“Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was forced to skip an opening ceremony of a hotel school in Ahangama after intelligence reports revealed a group waiting to protest against his participation…Every time Minister Bathiudeen’s name was mentioned the crowd booed.”
• Attacks on Muslims will resume after Presidential Election
Asked by a member of the audience, if he could prove what he was saying, Senanayake replied “I am talking with a sense of responsibility. As Army Commander I headed the Intelligence Unit and I am still privy to certain developments.”
• SL calls for Indian Ocean security architecture
“He represented Sri Lanka at the 19th Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in Abu Dhabi on 7 Nov. The UAE, taking over from S Africa as the Chairman for the next 2 years, pledged creating an IORA Development Fund…Sri Lanka planned to convene the ‘The Indian Ocean: Defining Our Future’, Track 1 Ministerial Conference next year, aimed at formulating a ‘Statement of Understanding’ by participating nations.
• Few countries can qualitatively match troops sent by SL: Foreign Secretary
• Why did Microsoft fund an Israeli firm that surveils West Bank Palestinian Faces?
“In June, Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12 announced it would invest in AnyVision as part of a $74mn Series A funding round, along with Silicon Valley venture capital firm DFJ…AnyVision counts former head of Mossad Tamir Pardo among its board of advisers. Amir Kain, director of the Defense Ministry’s security dept 2007-15, is AnyVision’s president. Several current employees did their national military service at elite cyberspy agency Unit 8200, equivalent to NSA or UK’s GCHQ.”
• Narrative Managers in Overdrive After Death of White Helmets Founder
“Le Mesurier has a history with British military intelligence and was fundamentally involved with an extremely shady narrative management operation geared toward manufacturing support for yet another imperialist military intervention in yet another Middle Eastern nation…Former UK ambassador Craig Murray has flagged the fact that Wikipedia’s imperialist narrative manager ‘Philip Cross’ has made dozens of edits to Le Mesurier’s Wiki page since his death.”
• The Sad Death of James Le Mesurier
“Unfortunately he worked in a profession where you can very quickly move from an asset to a liability. Le Mesurier’s usefulness to Western security services, Israel and their Gulf allies came to an end when the jihadist headchoppers to whom Le Mesurier had been providing logistic support and invaluable propaganda, lost their last secure footing in Syria”
• Surprising & Sensible Remarks of Unilever CEO Paul Polman
“We’re the world’s biggest NGO,” said Paul Polman, the chief executive officer of Unilever – “We’re a non-government organization. The only difference is, we’re making money so we are sustainable.” Unilever generated about $67bn in revenues and $7.2bn in profits last year.
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• Economist WA Wijewardena backs MCC
Former Central Bank Deputy Governor & senior economist – “It is always better for small countries like Sri Lanka to collaborate rather than confront.”
• Economic performance dependent on political outcome & economic policies – Sanderatne
“As Central Bank Governor Coomaraswamy observed, it was crucial not to reintroduce an anti-export biased policy framework, adding that there was no point in talking about reviving growth with a market of 20 million unless we grew an external demand or exports.”
• Right to misinformation – Abeyratne
‘Is it possible for a country like Sri Lanka with this kind of “free-democratic set up” coupled with a “weak political leadership” ever to become a developed country?’
• Rienzie factor in banking: Renaissance Man who revolutionized banking world – Wijewardena
“Rienzie argued convincingly that Sri Lanka should be managed by a team of competent people… he had even suggested that Sri Lanka should be handed to such proven world leaders like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore or Nelson Mandela of South Africa.”
• Ministry of Investment Promotion & Job Creation: A nation rich in industries – Dhammika
• Revaluing Capitalism for the Long-Term?
“A leading fraction of the capitalist class has cohered around a hegemonic project of economically ‘long-term’, socially ‘inclusive’, and ecologically ‘sustainable’ capitalism as the apparent solution to the system’s multidimensional and overdetermined organic crisis.”
• BlackRock’s role in Canada Infrastructure Bank included advising on key personnel
“ PM Trudeau named Jim Leech, a former Canadian pension official and close friend of Mark Wiseman, a BlackRock executive advising the government on the Bank’s creation, as a special advisor to the Infrastructure Bank. Wiseman himself had abruptly left his position as the CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for BlackRock. Then, the Trudeau government named Janice Fukakusa, a Royal Bank of Canada executive as Chair of the new Infrastructure Bank. Fukakusa was the former boss and supervisor of Marcia Moffat, an RBC executive who joined BlackRock in 2015 as the Managing Director, Head of Canada. In an added twist, Moffat is married to Mark Wiseman.Pierre Lavallee previously worked directly with Wiseman and another BlackRock executive André Bourbonnais at the CPPIB before being named by Trudeau as the new CEO of the Infrastructure Bank.”
C4. Economy (usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, etc.
• Sri Lanka has high currency risk, debt could jump further from depreciation: IMF
The IMF did not stop Sri Lanka from targeting a Real Effective Exchange Rate Index. Instead it did provide calculations to show that the rupee was ‘overvalued’ encouraging a devaluationist philosophy prevalent in the country.
• Presidential election to impact Sri Lanka’s economy: CB
“The government revenue declined during the period, reflecting the impact of policy measures to curtail imports of personal motor vehicles, sluggish economic activity following the Easter Sunday attacks and the delay in implementing certain revenue proposals announced in the Budget 2019.”
• China’s rising giants
“China’s mega-airlines are part of the world’s largest ‘Command Economy’. Rather than allowing competition, the central government decides on many issues regarding the economy.”
• Moody’s cuts global sovereign rating outlook to ‘negative’ for 2020
Moody’s, which has already slapped downgrade warnings on Britain, South Africa, India, Mexico, Turkey and HK, said there were 3 main drivers behind the move. Unpredictable politics and trade wars such as that between the US and China would weaken open and commodity-exporting economies.
• The Pathway between Asia & Latin America
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• Cost of construction in SL, highest in S Asia
“Our construction labour is about 25-30% more expensive than in these regions – especially in India,” Christopher Joshua, Managing Director Access Engineering PLC told the Business Times.
• Securities & Exchange Commission frowns at LAUGFS’s EPF trades
“charged with market manipulation, conspiracy to commit market manipulation and for aiding and abetting…trades during the pump-and-dump era and the buyer was the EPF…”
• Labour Dept to introduce minimum retirement age for private sector
“Most private firms, except for large companies, don’t include the age of retirement in employment contract agreements”
• Bonanza for 100,000 pensioners
“The Govt is to spend an additional Rs1bn to make the payments. The 100,000 pensioners who benefit from the revision include 22,526 people who retired in 2016, more than 24,000 in 2017, and another 26,000 last year.”
• Gota’s tax reliefs can boost country’s economic growth rate – trade unions’ federation
“The Federation of Trade Unions of Sri Lanka says several tax reliefs proposed by the SLPP’s presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa can bring forth benefits to the trading community as well as the general public…”
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• Presidential candidates and the ailing agriculture sector
“In 2018 around Rs 320 billion worth of food including milk food has been imported. Most of these can be locally produced. With about 2.5 million hectares of hitherto uncultivated/partly cultivated land, importing Rs. 320 billion worth of food annually is an anomalous situation.”
• Elections, manifestos & the Paddy Farmer
‘Every election season the farmer makes a come-back, front and centre, on election agendas and manifestos. The candidates vie for the two million plus farmers’ votes almost like in an auction, each outbidding the other, by using bigger and better subsidies and handouts. The fertiliser subsidy and the buying rate for paddy are the two most salient grievances that dominate political debates. To set the record straight, there is a wide gap between the “farm-gate price” (that farmers get for selling paddy), and the price which consumers pay for rice. However, this is always exaggerated.’
• Industry stakeholders urge formulation of national milk production policy
“All Island Dairy Association set up at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is now charged with a herculean task of increasing the country’s overall milk production to offset the massive import bill of Rs45bn on imported milk…the country today imports more than 60% of its milk requirement.”
• Gotabaya promises to scrap all farmers’ debts
“The local farmers have become helpless as most agricultural products are shipped in to the country at present, the presidential front-runner said further.”
• TNA silent on Indian Fishing in Northern Waters
• TNA leaders, especially Sampanthan and Sumanthiran, never tire of kowtowing and genuflection to every western Tom, Dick and Harry, huddled together mostly in their embassies. Tamil Nadu fishermen poaching in SL’s northern waters has been a contentious issue. TNA has failed to take up the problem with the Indian PM during his visits to Sri Lanka nor with the Indian High Commissioner. By remaining silent, they have betrayed northern Tamil fishermen with no care for their livelihood.”
• Ban on tobacco cultivation: blessing in disguise for Sri Lankan farmers
“While the topic of tobacco control is mentioned in some of the main presidential candidates’ manifestos, it is uncertain whether they will honour the commitment made in 2017 to ban tobacco cultivation by the end of 2020”
• “Socialism in Trump country…”
“In 2019 40% of all farm income will derive from federal aid and crop insurance.”
C7. Industry (false definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry section notes the ignorance about industrialization, the buying of foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound.
• Only local products will be used for State constructions – Gotabaya
“Addressing a rally at Dankotuwa, Gotabaya said his government will expand this system and take measures to supply clay, the major raw material used to produce bricks and tiles, for the manufacturers.”
• Ceylon Graphite’s subsidiary Sarcon wins environmental protection license for K1 graphite mining project in Sri Lanka
• ADB grants US$150mn to rehabilitate rural roads in Sri Lanka
To buy equipment from where? Japan?
• TRC spectrum allocation questioned
“Telecommunications Regulatory Commission has plans to allocate spectrum telecommunication frequency – 5 megahertz (MHz) – to Airtel without open competitive bidding…This 5 MHz was available when Hutchison merged with Etisalat recently. Hutchison and Etisalat each had 7.5 MHz of the 15 MHz they owned upon merging, Hutch agreed to give away 5 MHz.”
• China’s Hainan Group to invest US$300mn to set up 2 rubber trade zones
“China is currently the largest consumer of natural rubber in the world consuming almost 40% of global rubber production. China Hainan Rubber Industry Group is a subsidiary of Hainan State Farms Ltd, the largest state-owned agricultural enterprise in the country’s southernmost tropical island prov.”
• Asia to take slice of Chinese apparel market
“Textile and clothing in Cambodia accounted for 67% of their total earnings in 2017. Vietnam has earned US$31,200mn in 2018. Except Cambodia, the largest market for Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam is the US with a 53% share for Philippines, 15% share for Thailand and 39.1% share for Vietnam. Largest market for Cambodia is the EU with a 46% share. For South Asia, Bangladesh leads. Textile and clothing of Bangladesh accounted for 89.7% of total export earnings in 2018. Sri Lanka accounted for 44.7% whilst India had 12.1%.”
• Anil K Moonesinghe & the Citroen project
“Thus was sabotaged Anil’s dream of manufacturing a utility vehicle in this country. Such an industry would have given rise to a large number of small-scale component manufacturers, cottage industries in effect. In ‘developed countries, automobile manufacturers accounted for about 8 per cent of a country’s GDP at that time. Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have thriving automobile industries which were set up in the 1980s, but Sri Lanka would have had a head-start, if not for the lack of understanding on the part of a government bureaucrat.” [the author, Scott Direckze passed away last week – ee]
• BIA shut down by 28-minute power failure
“He said an upgrade of the power system would be carried out next year under a development project being implemented with aid from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.”
• Innovating for progress – dream on
“On the other hand, scores of inventors have produced models and prototypes from ideas, won awards locally and internationally but have not been able to translate them into a lucrative commercial product.”
• Australia and Sri Lanka economic& trade ties strong
“Australia is interested in investment in areas such as higher education, premium food and beverage, dairy agro-tech, port development and allied industries and resources and energy.”
• Japan funds 2 more Doppler radars despite disastrous Rs400mn attempt earlier
The WMO bought the Doppler radar on Met Depts instructions, from Alabama-based Enterprise Electronics Corporation…In Oct= 2013, the equipment was installed. But the supplier then notified WMO “electronic connectivity” could not be provided. It was decided to resend the radar to the factory for repairs. But…cost of repairs would be too high to justify despatching the parts to the US again.
• History of Anxiety & Possibility – Revisiting Keynes’s Technological Unemployment
“Developing economies like India and Brazil have had successes in minimum employment schemes despite various concerns. Also, ceteris paribus, it is certainly not a good idea to cut back on welfare spending in the face of technological unemployment and inadequate economic subsistence.”
• “Conservative Party rule has squandered away its potentially multi-100 billion-dollar Alberta Heritage Fund in such policies as foreign corporate giveaways & zero sales tax (compared to 20% in social-democrat Norway whose public capital Oil Fund, now worth over $1000-billion because it has been protected from the political raids as in Conservative Alberta). Conservative policies to get re-elected have boasted by far the lowest taxes in Canada, giveaways at all levels to foreign corporations including the world’s lowest royalties, populist cash-bribes to voters to stay in power, and big-mouth boasting of how other provinces and the government of Canada must get in line with its free-royalties rule and a population less than two-thirds of greater Toronto. Even now, the main public problem with pipelines out of Alberta is tar-sands crude not refined in Alberta. Refinement in Alberta of the over-60% going to the US could have produced far more jobs than export of the monster-extraction tar-sand crude could ever do. It could have made the oil far safer with spills recoverable. It could have brought in far greater revenues than the exiting Kochs and oil barons have been enriched by instead.”
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, pointing to the curious role of ratings agencies, again false indices, etc.
• Debt-heavy Sri Lanka seeks Japan’s help and prepares samurai bond
Analysts say Sri Lanka’s economy remains anemic due to its weak exports and foreign direct investment. Data for the first half of the year highlights the country’s stubborn trade deficit: Its exports totaled $5.9bn, while its imports reached $9.5bn…”
• Corporate treasurers should make more use of derivatives to hedge risks
• Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services rebrands as Acuity Knowledge Partners
… following the completion of a management buyout from Moody’s Corporation. The deal was [backed by] Equistone Partners Europe Limited, a mid-market private equity investor based in Europe.
C9. Business(Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business akaee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, making money from unproductive land selling, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• Sri Lanka to become hub if reforms are made with South Asia in mind
“Sri Lanka has every possibility to become the South Asia hub in shipping and logistics, if it can get some simple reforms through,” Razeen Sally Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore said, speaking at a South Asia Investment Conference, held for the second year jointly organized by Capital Alliance Securities (Pvt) Ltd, AKD Securities of Pakistan and Lanka Bangla Securities Ltd in Singapore.
• Champika alleges MR accepted US$5mn bribe
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• Siri and Sajith to meet?
‘Gunawardena revealed that he had once been sent by then President Rajapaksa to speak to Mr Premajayantha and call upon him to resign as Minister of Petroleum Resources. He had refused. Thereafter, Mr Gunawardena said, he reported back to the then President Rajapaksa. The latter had given him a video clip and asked that he show it to Mr. Premajayantha. “I know what was in the video. You (referring to Mr Premajayantha) know what was in the video. You then gave me your resignation letter to be given to the President,” Mr Gunawardena declared. That was how, he said, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa was named as Minister in charge of petroleum Resources.’
• Have scientific plan to eradicate poverty – AKD
“A few years back 240kg of drugs were seized. Generally, a kilo of heroin sells for around 10mn. I bet there isn’t a single businessman in Ambalantota who could do business for Rs2,400mn. Then who can afford to engage in drug business for Rs2,400mn? It is certainly not the people living in villages.”
• We fear Gotabaya
• Rajiva proposes devolution at district level
Since 1931, the district has been the fundamental unit of administration, and prior to the 13th Amendment, had been the target of devolution and decentralisation efforts…
• New policies in the pipeline on election campaign funding
“More than 120,000 people have come to Sri Lanka to cast their votes.”
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• The Presidential Election and Dark Public Relations (DPR)
• If Prez keen to make a statement, best to do so after 6pm on Nov16: EC
• Completing the circle: National consciousness rising
‘Ajith Samaranayake called it “the crisis of the Sri Lankan intelligentsia”: the inability of the Westernised elite, who lacked “a historic sense”, to bring about political, social, and economic changes after independence.’
• MTV challenges SLPP ‘Letter of Demand’ as strong-arm tactics
“At a press conference given by Dr Rajitha Senaratne and Attorney-at-law Shiral Lakthilaka a claim was made that it has been admitted that the assassination had been carried out on behalf of the Sri Lankan govt which is a distortion of facts”
• USAID funded project estimates SLPP spent Rs1518mn so far on campaigning, while NDF burnt Rs1422mn
• MTV sues ITN for Rs. 300 m
“On the basis that the Plaintiff who is an associate company of the Capital Maharaja Organisation is the exclusive territorial rights holder of the latest ASTERIX audio visual movie.”
• NY Times admits it sends stories to US govt for approval before publication
The New York Times casually acknowledged that it sends major scoops to the US government before publication, to make sure “national security officials” have “no concerns.”
• CLR James Retro
“Tariq Ali introduces this 1989 program about the legacy of CLR James who had died that year. We hear from a panel made of Prof Stuart Hall, Robin Blackburn, Paul Buhle and Andrew Salkey. Poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze recites her poem ‘On Your Passing’ and one of James’ favourite poems.”
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