‘Natural’ Disasters: Instruments of Class Rule

BY BROTHER MOND

In early September, Puerto Rico was hit with a devastating hurricane. Just weeks later, Hurricane Maria dealt another blow to the small island. The people of Puerto Rico are starving, they have no power and their homes are underwater.

In late August, monsoons flooded India, killing over 1,000 people.

Earthquakes struck Mexico throughout the whole month of September, killing hundreds.

Although it may not be obvious at first glance, all of these “natural” disasters benefit Western countries, which act like predators in the face of such catastrophe.

These predators prey on destroyed countries through “reconstruction loans” and “humanitarian aid.” These neocolonial policies allow the U.S. and other imperialist states to indirectly control Global South nations through debt and sanctions. Although the old form of neocolonialism is still in effect, climate change has ushered in a new face of neocolonialism: so-called “humanitarian aid” distributed after “natural” disasters.

What Is Neocolonialism?

Neocolonialism is an advanced state of colonialism, adapted to the times. Instead of direct military occupation, as illustrated in the old forms of colonialism, neocolonialism is the indirect rule of a colony through indirect means.

Neocolonialism takes the form of a Western-backed military coup, the assassination of a national leader by Western-backed “rebels” and the installation of a leader who is willing to sell out their own people to the imperialists. Take the example of the French-backed coup against Burkina Faso’s revolutionary government.

Thomas Sankara became president in 1983 as the country’s communist movement came to power. Thoroughly anti-imperialist, at the 1987 Organization of African Unity conference he proposed that other African heads of state form a united front against colonial debt.

France knew that such a revolutionary idea could not spread across the continent if they were to maintain their chokehold over their colonies. France immediately backed a right-wing coup led by Blaise Compaoré, who was the head of Sankara’s military at the time. Subsequent Burkinabe governments were marked by rising poverty and inequality.

This tactic, commonly used by the Global North, also takes the form of economic domination through sanctions and loans with conditions that only benefit the occupying country. An example of this was the Philippine Independence Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 1934. The Philippines were declared independent 12 years later. However Washington did everything in its power to retain economic control with trade conditions that forced the country into economic submission.

Through “fair trade” agreements, trade blockades, excessive taxation and neoliberal coups, the Western imperialists are able to maintain their colonial grip on the Global South. Neocolonialism is strategic for the imperialist powers, given that it allows them to continue indirectly ruling their colonies with minimal resistance.

How ‘Natural’ Disasters Are Ruling Class Instruments

These “natural” disasters are a result of climate change. Climate change is a result of the over exploitation of the earth’s resources by Western imperialism. These disasters are created by the global ruling class, which uses the destruction caused by them to manipulate weakened Third World nations, further exploiting them through strings-attached predatory loans.

Western nations are the most responsible for the devastation of the Earth and her resources. The U.S. ranks the highest in most categories measuring this but does the absolute least to reverse the effects of climate change.

There are still debates within the government over whether climate change even exists. Meanwhile, China has been leading the world in a campaign for clean energy.

Earlier this year, for example, China ran an entire region on renewable energy for seven days, utilizing hydroelectric power, wind turbines and solar power. China has also promised to significantly lower its CO2 emissions, with 2017 being the fourth year in a row when the country saw either zero growth or a decline in carbon emissions.

The current situation in Puerto Rico is a prime example of how the U.S. uses natural disasters as instruments of class rule. Puerto Rico has been pushed into a debt of over $73 billion through high interest loans from the U.S. while also being held as a semi-colony with no sovereignty. Puerto Rico’s colonial status leaves its people with no choice but to accept aid from the U.S. and be plunged even further into this fictitious debt, meant to keep the nation economically dependent on Washington.

These disasters are a direct result of the deliberate exploitation of the planet’s resources, overconsumption by the West and its refusal to fight the effects of pollution and climate change. The incidents caused by this are now being used as a tool by the ruling class to further exploit the Global South. We’re in a new era of neocolonialism ushered in by climate change.

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