One of the issues confronting the G20, and one the official communiqué is likely to duck, is the threat of climate change making parts of the globe uninhabitable. Nowhere is the peril more present and manifest than Bangladesh, home to more than 130 million people. The G20 leaders may smile for the cameras as their conflab closes, but the working people of Bangladesh are at the sharp end of capitalism’s failure to deal with threat of climate change.
Faced with mutiny at the Bangladesh Rifles Pilkhana barracks, and its spreading to many other areas, the government of Bangladesh, terrified at the consequences of such a sudden eruption of anger of the troops, initially offered to accept their demands, confirming its own weakness. Now the manhunt for the rebels is on, but the open challenge to their superior officers revealed by the ranks is an indication of how weak the state is and underlines the enormous revolutionary potential within society.
The price of rice in Bangladesh has a correlation with poverty, economic and political stability. In 2000, a wage labourer could buy 6-7 kg of rice with his daily income (about US$0.80). Now, less than half of that can be bought, even though the income has risen over time. Rising food prices could derail all political predictions and spell disaster for the country in 2008.
On January 30, 2008 two workers in World Dresses Ltd, Mirpur, Dhaka, (Bangladesh) were attacked and beaten by management staff at the end of an evening shift. One died, the other was hospitalised with broken limbs. Fearing unrest management closed the factory. When knowledge of the attack reached the company's workers, hundreds demonstrated outside the factory.
What started as an argument and scuffle between a group of army officers and students watching a football match has ended up as a widespread movement of the youth in Bangladesh, followed by curfew and sever repression, which has only served to spread the movement throughout the whole country.
On the surface, the conflict that has erupted
is over the make-up of the caretaker government that according to the
constitution is supposed to run the country in the three months up to a general
election. The conflict apparently is between two bourgeois fronts. But
underlying this political crisis is the extreme poverty of the masses who have
reached the limits of human endurance.