The Guardian • Issue #2049


People’s power in the 21st Century

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2049

As year 2000 ticked over, the leaders of the United States claimed the 21st century as an “American Century” but it is unfolding more like an American nightmare, a century of people’s actions and people’s power that will transform societies and overthrow capitalism in many more countries.

The break-up of the Soviet Union 30 years ago opened the doors to unprecedented attacks on the rights and conditions of working people throughout the world. It also opened the way to the overthrow of socialist societies in East Europe and then to the wars to break up the state of Yugoslavia. Then followed the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, all steps towards the long-held US objective of world domination.

A savage attack was launched on the rights and working conditions of hundreds of millions of people worldwide and on the public sector. This involved the privatisation of publicly owned enterprises and the undermining of public education and public health in favour of for-profit corporate provision. Behind the “American Century” is the power and wealth of the transnational corporations.

But this capitalist offensive is only half the story. The wars and the attacks on working people are bringing counter action and strong opposition.

This was most dramatically shown when the world witnessed the unprecedented demonstrations against the war in Iraq in 2003. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The exposure of the US leadership confirmed that Bush, Blair, and Howard lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Their justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a lie.

While this expression of people’s power did not prevent the invasion, it did show that millions of people had woken up to the despicable character of their leaders, and that these leaders serve the profit interests of the armaments, oil, and other corporations, and not those of the people. And now to AUKUS and the sell-out of independence and sovereignty.

In Australia, there is the intensified struggle of Indigenous Australians, reflected in the opposition to the Indigenous Voice to parliament by the parliamentary representatives of corporate Australia.

There are the actions of teachers and students in the defence of public education and health workers for more funding for the system.

These struggles are all part of the growing people’s movements and they are multiplying.

At present, in Australia, they do not challenge the capitalist social system, but as time goes on it will become more widely recognised that band-aid solutions by governments do not go far enough. The real source of the attacks on rights and conditions, the worldwide poverty and the wars that cause so much misery and thousands of deaths is to be found in the system of capitalism and imperialism.

In Latin America the people’s struggles have reached a high level. Socialist Cuba has survived 64 years of threats, blockades, attempted assassinations, and other covert actions. The people of Venezuela defended the revolutionary government of Hugo Chávez while the people of Brazil have re-elected a left-progressive government. The people of Colombia continued to wage an armed struggle against fascist-type governments backed by US money and arms, and now have a progressive government.

The emergence of BRICS, an economic block made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa and of trade agreements between all the African nations beneficial to each, are but two examples of a shift in global power.

This is only a small part of the world-wide picture, but it gives enormous encouragement to all who are on the side of the people and against the power of the transnational corporations and the despicable governments that they impose.

Rather than the claim of US leaders that the century is theirs, the 21st Century is a century of people’s actions and people’s power.

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