The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge—who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group’s newsletter)
“June 26, 2016
“Elections are all around us, engulfing us in trivia, with the important bits pushed to the sidelines. Trump versus Clinton, Brexit versus Stayit and Shorten versus Turnbull.
“Brexit won and has caused apoplexy in Brussels and financial circles. Jeremy Corbyn hit the nail on the head with his comment that many communities are fed up with cuts, fed up with economic dislocation and feel very angry at the way they’ve been betrayed and marginalized. From Tariq Ali: It was a revolt against the political establishment’. From Pilger: An act of raw democracy…millions refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt. But they’re still stuck with capitalism and all its inequalities.
“It’s anyone’s guess what the Yankees will do faced with a Wall Street/Military Industrial Complex former Goldwater Girl versus a racist buffoon. Fifty-one Clintonites in the US State Department recently bunged off a petition - leaked to the press - urging for yet another illegal, murderous regime change war, this time against Syria. Preparing for a showdown with Russia? And Iran? An equal opportunity triumph for Hillary. Both boys and girls will die in World War 3.
“As for our home-grown affair, it limps along boring us silly, reminding us of Sondheim’s hit song, ’Send in the Clowns’. Turnbull's a creep I have always disliked, but I reckon he’s turned into an even more opportunistic creep run by the hard right, sickening in the way he’s used the CFA debacle, a state matter, to get a few anti-union brownie points and the way he runs around the marginals indiscriminately chucking our money around to get a lift in the polls. And you can bet London to a brick he’ll weigh in about ‘today’s uncertainties’ blah, blah. Trust him and his right-wing mates? On anything? You’d need fur for brains. And then there’s Shorten…
“An era of commercialized sloganeering, with everything up for sale. A two-party duopoly, a tyranny where the issues we should be talking about are off-limits, not debated or discussed.
“Some of us, not nearly enough, fume and rage and get out on the streets to protest against the greedy and corrupt, for safer food, cleaner air, better pensions, a freer media, more open government, waging peace instead of war, for indigenous rights, for public everything instead of privatized rorts ripping the heart out of our education and health care systems, along with science and the arts. But the powers-that-be have congealed wax in their ears.
“As I’ve said many, many times, elections are only about the sauce with which we’ll be eaten. Everywhere, we see the damage wreaked by transnational corporations, financially, economically, ecologically in a creeping colonization of our daily lives, where just 147 organizations now control 40 percent of global trade. It feels as if we’re taking part in a slow motion coup d’etat swamped by a rising corporatocracy that should have been brought to heel by governments decades ago.
“A study in 2000 by Corporate Watch and the Global Policy Forum highlighted that of the 100 largest economies, 51 were Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and only 49 were countries. America’s WalMart, for instance, is bigger than 161 countries; Mitsubishi is bigger than Indonesia, the fourth most-populated nation on earth; General Motors is bigger than Denmark and Ford is bigger than South Africa. These same corporations - bigger than the combined economies of 182 countries and with twice the economic clout - employ less than one-third of one percent of the world’s people - just 18.8 million.
“A decade later, the TNC’s share of the global market has increased dramatically. And yet, armed with such damning evidence, politicians abandon any smidgin of morality in favor of lucrative revolving door careers leaving once-thriving nations as hollowed out corpses.
“In her ‘State of Corporations’ Susan George observed that: from the mid-1990s, the largest American banking, securities, insurance and accounting transnational corporations joined forces and employed 3000 people and spent $US5 billion to get rid of all New Deal laws passed under the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s - the very laws that had protected the American economy for over sixty years.
“Through this collective lobbying, they won total freedom to remove any money-losing assets from their balance sheets into ‘shadow’ banks that appeared nowhere on their balance sheets, leaving them free to create and trade hundreds of billions worth of toxic derivative products, such as unregulated sub-prime mortgages’.“ In the US alone, more than ten million families had their homes repossessed. In our era of ‘too big to fail and gaol’ virtually no-one has been brought to heel or sent to prison.
“Today, corporate lobbyists called ‘expert committees’ meet daily with officialdom to hammer out trade deals with no representation from consumer or environmental organizations or civil society. Anarchy by the rich and powerful. Epic financial crimes, monumental tax evasion, ecological mayhem on an industrial scale and non-stop illegal wars. A roll-call of shame.
“Pinch a loaf of bread and it’s prison for the likes of you and me, loot an entire country and you’ll get a knighthood.
“Only a few weeks ago, the European Parliament voted in favor of the ‘Trade Secrets Protection Directive’, a law that gives corporations huge new powers to prosecute and criminalize whistleblowers, journalists, and news organizations that publish leaked internal documents. Anything to keep us in the dark.
“Not in Cuba. During the long ‘special period’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world’s media, almost without exception, predicted Cuba’s demise. And yet underneath was an undeniable energy, human energy. Everywhere, problems were discussed in depth at meeting after meeting. I left Cuba inspired… Viva!