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Sunday, August 28, 2016
Battle for the Future in North Dakota
by Luke Pickrell
The growing movement against the North Dakota Access Pipeline is about nothing less than the future of human existence on this planet. On one side stands the Fortune 500 corporation Energy Transfer Partners, whose $3.8 billion pipeline is halfway complete. The finished product is 1,400 miles long (only 7 miles shorter than the Keystone XL) and would move some 400,000 gallons of crude oil through 50 counties in 4 states. On the other side stand a growing number of people concerned about their community and the future of the planet. The movement against the pipeline was started and is led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Native Americans - whose genocide paved the way for the development of private property in North America - experience poverty, suicide, drug abuse, and police terrorism at levels far higher than any other section of the U.S. population.
The wishes of Energy Transfer Partners, in partnership with two of the world's largest gasoline distributors in Sunoco and Phillips 66, are backed by the capitalist state: in July the Army Corps of Engineers quickly approved the project; North Dakota police have arrested over 25 people; the FBI is survailing protestors; and the Department of Homeland Security has removed all state-provided water, air conditioning, and shelter from the protestors' campsite. The message is clear: under capitalism the profits of corporations trump the demands of the people and the health of the planet.
On Saturday a pipeline construction worker in Western North Dakota was killed on the job.
Everyone has a stake in the battle against the Access Pipeline, as the destruction of the earth threatens marginalized communities first and all of us in the long term. The protest camps already in place will no doubt come under increased police attacks the longer people stay - the state will open its toolbox of terrorist tactics in an attempt to crush dissent against capitalist profits. The corporate media is attempting to shroud the protests in silence and non-coverage.
Frustratingly, none of the more publicized socialist groups in the U.S. have had anything to say about the events in North Dakota. In addition, there has been no response from the Green Party, Black Lives Matter, or any of the major unions. A big step in the movement against the pipeline - and one that could turn it into a larger movement against corporate profit over public need - would be the presence of these groups at the protest encampments. The ravaging of Native American land by corporations should be connected to the immense inequality in this country and across the globe, as no life, no track of land, no community or way of life, is valued under an economic system build on competition and the maximization of profit. Make no mistake; the ruling class in society will stop at nothing - not world war, not fascism, not the poising of drinking water - to see its profits protected and expanded.