Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Solidarity with the Haitian People

As the outstanding recent novelist of the Haitian Revolution, Madison Smartt Bell noted of the devastating earthquake in Haiti earlier this week, 'A disaster on this scale is opportunity for opportunism as well as an opportunity to do some real good; Haiti will undoubtedly get its share of both.'

Richard Seymour has superbly described some of the dangers associated with Western 'humanitarian intervention' that lie ahead (see also here, while Scott McLemee reminds people if they have not already done so to read CLR James's The Black Jacobins for an understanding of why racists like Pat Robertson still harbour so much hate for the people of Haiti and why Haiti finds itself in the materially if not culturally impoverished state it currently does.

This statement by Socialist Worker, 'A Very Unnatural Disaster', notes that 'Imperialist intervention and capitalism lie behind Haiti's nightmare' and after reminding people of the history of the island - on which also see here, puts forward the following demands:

We say:
-Rush food, shelter and other aid to Haiti now
-No to the use of aid as a political weapon to impose the US’s will
-End the neoliberal policies that squeeze Haiti’s poor
-End the occupation of Haiti by foreign forces

Others might add other demands such as allowing the return of former President Aristide to Haiti and the cancellation of Haiti's debt. I have also been informed of an emergency vigil in London, the details of which I will post below.

In support of the people of Haiti
Wednesday 20 January 5-7pm
St Martin in the Fields Church steps
Trafalgar Sq, London WC2N
Survivors are increasingly desperate, and angry that despite promises the aid is not getting to them.

Edited to add: Despite the slow speed with which aid is arriving, Christopher Hitchens still predictably cheers the presence of US imperial power once more on Haitian soil ('the biggest [humanitarian] work of all will be performed by carrier groups and airborne brigades of the United States, the taxpayer-financed forces of a secular republic'), though Greg Palast rightly remains one angry and appropriately sceptical man:

Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed — without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters. But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.

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