This month US Americans got a small glimpse of what a coup might feel like, and they are rightly outraged. One might hope this would provoke some reflection on the *actual* coups that the US itself has perpetrated around the world. Here are some of them:
1953: Mohammed Mossadegh, the progressive, democratically elected leader of Iran, was deposed in a US- and British-backed coup because he sought to restore national control over Iran's oil reserves. Image
1954: Jacobo Árbenz, the progressive, democratically elected leader of Guatemala, was deposed in a US-backed coup because he sought to restore land to small farmers and Indigenous communities that had been dispossessed by US fruit companies. Image
1961. Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected leader of the Republic of Congo, was assassinated in a coup backed by the US, UK and Belgium, because he sought to restore control over the country's mineral reserves. They installed the Mobutu dictatorship in his place. Image
1964. João Goulart, the progressive, democratically elected leader of Brazil, was deposed by a US-backed coup and replaced with a right-wing military junta. Image
1967. Sukarno, the first leader of independent Indonesia, was deposed in a US-backed coup that installed a right-wing military dictatorship. As part of this operation, the US collaborated in the massacre of 500,000 left-wing peasants and workers. Image
1973. Salvadore Allende, the progressive, democratically elected leader of Chile, was deposed and assassinated in a US-backed coup that installed the right-wing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Image
This is not distant history. The US has been involved in coups and attempted coups against elected governments in the South well into the 21st century. US legislators are lining up to defend the "sacredness" of democracy, but unfortunately this standard is selectively applied.
If you want to know more about this story, I cover it in a chapter titled "From colonialism to the coup" in The Divide, looking not just at interventions by the US but also by Britain and France. penguin.co.uk/books/111/1113…
Another one I want to include: 1966. Kwame Nkrumah, the first leader of independent Ghana, co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement and author of the book "Neocolonialism", was deposed in a coup backed by the US and Britain. Image
1964. Cheddi Jagan, the popular progressive leader of British Guiana, was removed from power by the US and UK. This was the second time Jagan was deposed; the first was in 1953, days after he won the election, in a coup orchestrated by Winston Churchill. Image

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More from @jasonhickel

18 Jan
Remarkably, Sri Lanka has a life expectancy that's similar to the USA (shy by a year and a half) with a staggering 88% less resource use and 94% less emissions on a per capita basis.
These metrics are consumption-based:

Raw material consumption:
USA: 32.36 tons per person
Sri Lanka: 3.88 tons per person

CO2 emissions:
USA: 18.35 tons per person
Sri Lanka: 1.03 tons per person
By the way, Sri Lanka has a free, universal public healthcare system.
Read 4 tweets
11 Jan
Imagine a world where labour and resources in the global South were available to provide for local human needs, rather than appropriated for the sake of excess consumption in the global North.
For reference, the scale of net appropriation from South to North is staggering:

-10.1 billion tons of raw materials
-379 billion hours of human labour
-22.7 quintillion joules of energy
-800 million hectares of land

That's for a single year, 2015. All for Northern excess.
Read 5 tweets
28 Dec 20
Economists and politicians lean heavily on the promise of "green growth" as a last-ditch defense of capitalism. But is green growth possible? This year brought a lot of new research to bear on this question. Here's a summary:
1. In this 2020 NPE review, we found that it is not feasible to reduce emissions fast enough stay under 1.5C while growing the global economy at the same time. Why? Because growth requires more energy use, which makes decarbonization much more difficult. tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.108…
2. To be clear: absolute decoupling of GDP from emissions is possible (renewables!), and some nations are already doing it. The question is whether we can do it fast enough to remain within safe carbon budgets, while pursuing growth at the same time. And the answer to that is no.
Read 9 tweets
23 Dec 20
The right have attacked the Green New Deal on the grounds that it will hurt economic growth. In response, the left have defended it by saying it will *increase* growth. And maybe it will. But taking this approach is a bad strategy for a number of reasons:
1. If the GND *does* generate growth, that will drive aggregate resource use and energy demand up, and therefore make it paradoxically more difficult (and probably unfeasible) to decarbonize the economy in the short time we have left.
2. Clean energy infrastructure requires material extraction (for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, etc). More energy demand means more extractivism, which will have significant social and ecological impacts - on global South communities in particular.
Read 10 tweets
15 Dec 20
Global South countries, led by South Africa and India, have requested a suspension of the WTO's patent rules to enable them to manufacture or import affordable generic versions of the COVID-19 vaccine. Shockingly, Britain and other rich countries have refused.
This decision could be a death sentence to hundreds of thousands of people. All to enable pharma corporations to profiteer, in the middle of a pandemic, from vaccines that have been developed overwhelmingly with public funds.
Here is a report on the initial proposal: keionline.org/34235

And here is Britain's frankly condescending response: gov.uk/government/new…
Read 8 tweets
11 Dec 20
Here's more on the new mitigation scenario for 1.5C. How does it work? What would society look like? Are we willing to do what's required to stop climate breakdown? See thread.
1. Most models assume we need to keep growing the economy indefinitely. The problem is this makes it impossible to transition to zero emissions quickly enough; so they speculate on geoengineering and negative-emissions technologies to save us. Scientists reject this as too risky.
2. By contrast, this scenario proposes that high-income countries don't *need* more growth, and can scale down unnecessary production and consumption. This reduces energy demand (from 140 EJ in 2020 to 40 EJ in 2050), and enables a rapid transition to renewable energy.
Read 9 tweets

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