Our Say

After G8 and the London bombings - the way forward

London terror attacks condemned

After Live 8:
from pressure to action

The G8 summit and political power

Make the G8 leaders history

A sham election

10 good reasons to boycott May 5

Don't be blackmailed into voting

Reject ‘dependency’ politics

No votes for New Labour!

Parliament seals its own fate

A secret policeman's government

Vote for "none of the above"

How to remember the victims of the tsunami

A state of crisis

New Labour and the big lie

Yasser Arafat - a revolutionary life

After the US election

Blood on New Labour's hands

Butler and weapons of mass deception

With 'leaders' like these, who needs enemies?

How to meet the threat from the right

Barbarians at the gate

Torture, values and lies

The silence of the lambs

War crimes in Iraq

The slaughter in Madrid

The unfinished business of the miners’ strike 1984-85

L’état – c’est New Labour

The death of liberal democracy foretold

Hutton washes the state whiter than white

Top-up fees and the market economy

Our challenge for 2004

New Labour's march to a police state

Bush & Blair - partners in crime

London Region revolts against FBU leaders

Postal workers in the front line

No turning back

Where we go from here

Stop the War Coalition leaders and political fabrication

Regime change begins at home

Blood on New Labour's hands

There's more involved than just Blair

New Labour, lies and spies

Firefighters should reject deal and disown leaders

BECTU vote on New Labour link a step forward

Time runs out for FBU leaders

New Labour's one-party state

The blind alley of crude anti-Americanism

Occupation of Iraq - time to move beyond protest

War is a test for principles

Iraqi defiance shocks and awes

FBU leaders who backed capitulation should resign now

Down with New Labour's war - for regime change in Britain

FBU at war with New Labour

New Labour, not just Blair, is the target

50 years since the death of Stalin - an assessment

FBU finds itself in Precott's trap

War is Peace - Blair's fictitious 'push for peace'

15/2: Global marches put power on the agenda

Crisis of globalisation behind attack on Iraq

Tell it how it is

An injury to one is an injury to all

War plans expose fraudulent 'democracy'

A 'regime change' in Britain is the answer to war on Iraq

FBU needs a new strategy

Challenging New Labour

A moment of truth in the fight against New Labour

Gilchrist says it how it is

Time to defy the anti-union laws in support of the FBU

FBU must ask for solidarity strikes

FBU leaders must ask for support now

New Labour provokes confrontation

Italian police attack No-Global movement

New Labour declares war on FBU

Don't let the FBU fight alone

UN writes a blank cheque for war

Blood on Putin's hands

Unions must support firefighters with action not words

Support the firefighters - defeat New Labour

Bush-Blair war agenda revealed

Seeing through New Labour's weapons of mass deception

The US media and the new garrison state

The BEGINNING of Politics

How technology could
free humanity

'Terminator' engineering: A threat to humanity

The future is socialist

Asylum legislation fuels racist attacks

Road map to the future

E-mail to hear about site changes, placing 'update' in body of message



How to remember the victims of the tsunami

The deaths of at least 150,000 people from the tsunami in the Indian ocean portray in the most tragic way the sharp divisions in wealth, power and technology that now exist in an unprecedented way on a global scale. In Britain, the response of the public to the disaster in giving more cash than the wretched New Labour government has in aid is an indication that more and more people reject these sharpened divisions between rich and poor people and nations.

Whatever aspect you examine, the thought remains: why did so many people die from a natural phenomenon like an earthquake that scientists had long predicted would take place near Sumatra in the Indian ocean? Most of those who died were extremely poor people scratching out a living along coastal areas of Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. They lived in these vulnerable places because they had no other choice. Indonesia's oil wealth has passed the people of Aceh by while Sri Lanka has squandered resources in resisting the Tamils' right to self-determination.

Successive Indian governments have opened up the country to global communications and other corporations. The vast disparity in wealth that has resulted led to the defeat of the ruling government last year. The call and information centres set up to service customers in higher-wage economies is a stark reminder that the technology exists to get through to people. Only the priority is not in the saving of lives. That is why 7,000 Indians are dead and no tsunami warning system exists in the Indian ocean.

In Thailand, the corrupt government has developed the tourist industry for relatively wealthy Europeans and North Americans while ignoring the plight of the country's poor. Even in death, there is evidence that the tourists came first and help for fishing families a few miles away was a long way second. The Thai government apparently knew about the earthquake and dangers from a consequent tsunami and did nothing to alert coastal areas for fear of upsetting the tourist industry with a false alarm

But overall responsibility for the state of affairs in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand rests with the dominant economic and political powers on the planet: the global corporations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and sponsored governments like New Labour.

Their system of free market capitalism has at its heart the intense exploitation of resources - including labour - in poorer countries like those in the Indian ocean. These nations are not allowed to develop but instead are forced to open their doors to inward investment by corporations and ecologically-damaging mass tourism. Some local people benefit and get wealthy, especially the political and business élites. But the vast majority remain poor and exposed to danger from floods and other natural disasters.

Cameron Duodu, in a letter to The Independent on January 1st, points out, "In this instance, a warning broadcast both in English and the Asian languages used by the BBC World Service, to the effect that the earthquake had occurred and that as a result tsunamis were likely in certain areas would certainly have been heeded and would have saved many lives. Reports from Reuters and other news agencies, all of which have subscribers among the Asian radio stations, would have served to reinforce the BBC message."

"Why wasn't such a warning issued?", Duodo asks. "If the potential target of the tsunamis had been North America or Western Europe, would a warning to the globe's most powerful news sources, in this e-mail age, have been found to be too difficult to structure and deliver?"

His conclusion is spot on: "The catastrophic information failure reminds us that we live in two worlds - one white and rich and cared for, the other non-white, poor and neglected or ignored. Fortunately, the ordinary people in the white, rich world constantly shame their governments and institutions by demonstrating, through their response to appeals for funds to relieve disaster, that they are more sensitive to the requirements of our common humanity than their governments, bureaucracies and institutions."

The scale of the tsunami cataclysm brings home the fragility of human existence on the planet, and is provoking soul-searching all around. Atheists like scientist Richard Dawkins and religious leaders like archbishop Rowan Williams have in different ways pointed to how it might shake faith in any god. But one thing is clear. As humans we can know the causes and can find ways of alleviating the effects of natural disasters. It is the division of our society globally into rich and poor and the control over science and technology by élite groups in the powerful states as well as in the poorer ones, that prevents us from deploying our social powers to their maximum.

Towards the end of last year we published A World to Win which analysed in detail how globalised capitalism had brought the planet to the edge of a catastrophe. The destruction of resources has, for example, created significant climate change that threatens rich and poor countries alike. The United States and Britain have targeted poor countries and people with their spurious "war on terror". Almost as many people have been killed in Iraq at the hands of the invading and occupying forces as have died in the Indian ocean.

A World to Win also put forward proposals for building on the increasing opposition to a world dominated by market capitalism and regimes like New Labour, whose cynicism knows no bounds. The Sunday Telegraph's columnist Matthew d'Ancona says he was "astonished last week when one of the Prime Minister's closest allies asked me, in apparent seriousness, whether 'the tsunami story will run until the weekend'".

We should make 2005 the year when the people of the planet say enough is enough and take practical steps towards building a world based on co-operation and the meeting of humanity's needs. That would be the best way to remember the victims of the tsunami.

Movement for a Socialist Future
2 January 2005