Summer 2021 at an Internationalist's Glance

By Brendan S.

Kabul graffiti, August 2021. (Photo: Anas Mallick)

As this summer comes to a close amid hellish conflagrations, both ecological and social, one can look back and see the vivid marks of state terror pervade the world, and choose to remain transfixed on the mere density of tragedy with ease.


We saw a freshly integrated military junta continue its reign by force in Burma, indiscriminately slaughtering countless civilians.


We saw a Belt-and-Road emboldened Chinese state reinforce its repression of Hong Kong and globalize its genocide on both Uyghurs and Tibetans.


We saw a constant onslaught of ethnic cleansing in West Papua by the Indonesian state.


We saw the Turkish state cry out in support of Palestine then suddenly make extensive economic deals with Israel as Arab families were expelled from their homes and Al-Aqsa Mosque was engulfed in flames.

Remnants of the Euphrates River in July. (Photo: Syrian Democratic Times)

We saw the Turkish state deprive 5.4 million people of water by cutting off Northern Syria’s water channels and draining the Euphrates River, causing Covid-19 to spread faster across Syria. Meanwhile in Iraq, the Turkish state ignited Assyrian villages and bombed Yazidi communities which are still recovering from Daesh.


We saw Erdogan’s Syrian proxy forces meanwhile raping and murdering countless civilians.


We saw Russian and Syrian jets incessantly bombing civilians in Idlib.


We saw the Azerbaijani state continue to take advantage of the pandemic to coerce Armenian civilians in the wake of the Second Artsakh War.

July protests in the majority-Arab region of Ahwaz over severe water and power shortages caused by ethnic favoritism of the Iranian government. (Creative Commons)

We saw the Iranian state forcefully repressing country-wide protests from Ahwaz to Balochistan, executing hundreds of political prisoners, and slaughtering Kurdish laborers simply trying to feed their families.


We saw the Cuban state resort to racialized police state tactics and annihilate free speech in the wake of a US embargo-driven uprising.


We saw an entire state along with its civil society capsized in Afghanistan by a reactionary force that enslaves women.


All of these cases, perpetrated by unitary majoritarian regimes.


Indigenous tribes of Brazil create a vigil in front of the Judiciary of Brazil buildings in Brasília with the message: “Brazil is Indigenous Land.” August 24. (Photo: Ian Coelho)

Pessimism and fixation on the injustices of the modernity has never won any revolution. Nihilism is the death of hope, and with the death of hope, the smothering of everything that forges freedom. A revolution cannot more swiftly cause its own self-destruction. With these evocative moments of state-borne terror fresh in mind, we must also reflect on the invaluable moments of human progress that have ensued over this summer.


Fighters of the Tigray Defense Forces after the liberation of Mekelle, July 2021. (Photo: Finbarr O’Reilly)

Tigray has been almost entirely liberated in the midst of famine and genocide. Against incredible odds, Tigrayan forces have completely subverted the coercive tools of the Ethiopian state through persistent guerrilla resistance. Despite Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed acquiring support from Turkish drones and advisors, nothing has stopped the ongoing offensive of the Tigrayan Defense Forces (TDF). An unexpected alliance has been made between the TDF, Oromo Liberation Front, Sidama Liberation Front, and Somali militias.


An effective ceasefire has stayed strong in Libya, where fighting has come to a near complete halt and Libyans have resumed their livelihoods. About all that packs the Libya news channels now are soldiers casually vibing to Maghrebi pop, Wagner goons ominously strolling around like perpetual psychopaths, and occasional protests from Turkish-backed jihadist mercenaries who haven’t been paid by the Turkish state in months.


The Yemeni state has failed catastrophically to continue its Saudi-backed genocide of Shi’as in the northwest. The desperation on President Abdrabbuh Hadi’s face seems to now live on the cusp of an aneurysm as the Houthis and Southern Transitional Council prevent the Yemeni state from any major advances.

Karen National Liberation Army detachment during a July patrol in Kawthoolei. (Photo: IG @shakerpawwah)

Across Burma, we’ve seen self-defense militias continue to defend their autonomy and hold fast against the Tatmadaw, which has overextended itself in ethnic cleansing operations across the country. The Tatmadaw offensive seems to have collapsed on itself, as multiple bases have been captured by liberation forces.


In Mexico, the Zapatistas and numerous community militias have successfully defended themselves against a brutal duality of state and cartel aggression. Where the worker is armed, the cartels hesitate, and the state fails to demobilize the collective integrity of the people in self-defense.


On the coast of Mozambique, the expulsion of most jihadist forces from Cabo Delgado has ensued, forcing them to scramble back into a low-level insurgency. This was a major blow to jihadist mobilization across Southeast Africa, as it could no longer establish a de facto caliphate.


From the mountains of Eastern Kurdistan, guerrillas of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) have made their presence known for the first time in years after their appearance in Shno back in March, sabotaging regime assets and maintaining a guerrilla presence throughout the summer.

Mapuche liberation fighters in August with the message to corporate expansionists and the Chilean state: “Get out of the forests of Wallmapu.” Wallmapu is the Mapudungan word for the Mapuche homeland, meaning ‘all lands.’ (Photo: IG @kimvnkaweychan)

In Abya Yala (Latin America), the continuation of massive popular uprisings against rampant neoliberal policies, and a groundbreaking year for the election of progressive administrators at state, provincial, and local levels. The mobilization of indigenous militias across the Americas does not make any headlines, but is occurring at a faster rate than ever before.


Tribal nations have purchased back vast swathes of ancestral land and continue to resist extractivism across Turtle Island (North America), from Yurok to Passamaquoddy land.


Across the Atlantic, remarkable advances by indigenous Mai Mai militias against the highly coercive Congolese regime and Rwandan proxy forces.


A significant rise in Naxalite power has swept the Red Corridor of India, along with a marked transition in the Communist Party of India from unitary vanguardism to direct democratic praxis. The results of this transition can be seen clearly in communist-governed Kerala’s most effective response to Covid-19 in the entire country.


In West Papua, the deterrence of Indonesian and Chinese ethnic cleansing operations through persistent guerrilla struggle.


A sharp rise in membership of Progressive International, a coalition of anti-authoritarian direct democratic parties and organizations across the world. Their motto: “Internationalism or Extinction.” Numerous other international solidarity groups such as Industrial Workers of the World have also seen skyrocketing membership.


Burmese National League for Democracy solidarity with Afghanistan at an August 28 rally in San Francisco. (Photo: Brendan S.)

Most importantly, throughout this summer of concurrent chaos and progress, we have seen an unprecedented wave of international solidarity forged by communication on the internet. Ideas and praxis are no longer isolated for the elite, but open to the general population, through a digital web that no government can fully control nor censor.


For every moment in uncertain darkness, there are two moments of light should we choose to search for them, and should we choose to empower ourselves to empower others.


This understanding is, after all, the immortality of internationalism.