We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Monday, August 29, 2016
Elections have always been held up as a primary feature of "democracy". However, our ruling capitalist class have learned over the years how to subvert that process of democracy. In this article Palast seems to focus narrowly on the GOP, and I question why.
It is no accident of history that our ruling capitalist class first restricted the vote to white property owning males. You see, our reverently referred to "Founding Fathers" (they have been deified) did this intentionally because they feared the rest of the population. At that time they discovered that mixing people into large voting areas tended to dilute any real democratic pressures from below. (Remember that roads were poor and the means of communication was limited.) It has been taught to us, along with a lot of other garbage, that the system of checks and balances that is a part of the design of our government was to protect against autocrats from coming to power. The truth is that the new American ruling class led by Hamilton and the banker Morris had a terrible fear of citizens and designed the new government to protect them from the "unwashed masses". (Read Unruly Americans by Woody Holton and An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States by Charles Beard.)
Since then we have witnessed the extension of voting rights to most of the rest of the population, but this was only allowed because over time the capitalist class tightened their grip on the media and education to instill ideas that were favorable to their rule. They also used a variety of other tricks to subvert any meaningful democracy by their control over what political parties were allowed to participate, gerrymandering districts, poll taxes, and now with the purging of voter rolls.
(If all else failed, they never hesitated to hire private hooligans (for example, the Pinkertons), or us the FBI, the National Guard (for example, the Kent State massacre) to insure that their interests and policies are protected. Nowadays they are using aggressive local police forces trained in crowd control by the Israelis.)
Judging by the extremely slanted coverage of the current presidential campaigns by corporate media, it is clear that the deep state wants Hillary Clinton as the figurehead president. Donald Trump is too much of a maverick who likely cannot be bought or intimidated to follow their orders. They will insure that Hillary is elected and that neoliberal and neoconservative interests are well represented in Congress.
So the way that Palast frames this article, he seems to be promoting the idea that only Trump and the GOP are seeking to subvert the elections. This is only a shameful step away from promoting the idea that Hillary Clinton should be elected.
In only six pages, which are filled with diagrams and pictures, the scientists summarize their investigation with this statement.
ConclusionThis scientific examination of the 9/11 fairy tale, that our masters used to explain the tragedy, offers an excellent illustration of the power of our capitalist ruling class. They can even intimidate NIST, the nation's premiere scientific institution, to go along with their fairy tales. However a growing number of our scientists, engineers, and architects are beginning to challenge it on scientific grounds. The ruling class, although on the defensive, so far are not going after these people because they are counting on you to know longer care about 9/11. After all, they got what they wanted: an aggressive foreign policy that reserves the right to invade any country without Congressional approval, never-ending wars, the framework of a police state embodied in the Patriot Acts, and a dumbed-down and passive citizenry.
It bears repeating that fires have never caused the total collapse of a steel-framed high-rise before or since 9/11. Did we witness an unprecedented event three separate
times on September 11, 2001? The NIST [U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology] reports, which attempted to support that unlikely conclusion, fail to persuade a growing number of architects, engineers, and scientists. Instead, the evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that all three buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition. Given the far-reaching implications, it is morally imperative that this hypothesis be the subject of a truly scientific and impartial investigation by responsible authorities.
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Eva Bartlett Challenges the Corrupt Western Media’s Vision of Syria [followed by a genuine revolutionary idea]
Canadian activist/freelance journalist. I've lived cumulative ~3 years in Gaza, spent time in Lebanon and visited Syria 4 times since April 2014. Anti-zionist, anti-imperialist, pro-justice.
This article written by an independent observer on the ground in Syria got me thinking. It seems to me that many people are rather desperately looking for some progressive alternative to politics as is usually practiced in our nation and Canada. A new media organization with revolutionary potential could very well inspire and motivate these people. The next great idea that could satisfy this demand could be a radically organized independent media organization. It seems to me that many disaffected people in our two countries are ready to support such a venture.
This could be accomplished by people setting up their own media organization supported with low cost subscriptions that are gathered from millions of Americans and Canadians who want reports from independent on-the-ground observers of events instead of propaganda pieces from corporate media that justify Empire policies and actions. It seems to me that this project could be initiated by staff from the many alternative media websites coming together to pool their resources and technical abilities in support of a new North American independent media organization instead of using a Russian media network as this interview does.
The makeup of this new media organization would incorporate a new radical revolutionary perspective that would be oriented around a bottom-up authority structure. It seems to me that local groups of subscribers could be formed across the US and Canada, and they in turn would elect representatives that would have the authority to hire and fire staff. The organization could make considerable use of the internet to mediate decisions instead of face-to-face meetings.
Organizers would no doubt experience terrific opposition from corporate media and the ruling class, but this could be used to further raise the political consciousness of the brainwashed American and Canadian people.
...to safeguard everything the capitalists have stolen from the population, government officials have beefed up the entire repressive state apparatus.
The police violence in Milwaukee is not an accident. It is just one arm of the violence imposed by the capitalist social and economic system on the entire working class, especially its most oppressed layers.
The same kinds of attacks that are taking place in Milwaukee are happening all across the country. But in Milwaukee, just as in Ferguson and Baltimore, people opposed themselves to the state apparatus that protects the capitalists’ profits.
In our own time, the concept of happiness has moved from the private sphere to the public one. As William Davies reports in this fascinating study, a growing number of corporations employ chief happiness officers, while Google has a “jolly good fellow” to keep the company’s spirits up. Maybe the Bank of England should consider hiring a jester. Specialist happiness consultants advise those who have been forcibly displaced from their homes on how to move on emotionally. Two years ago, British Airways trialled a “happiness blanket”, which turns from red to blue as the passenger becomes more relaxed so that your level of contentment is visible to the flight attendants. A new drug, Wellbutrin, promises to alleviate major depressive symptoms occurring after the loss of a loved one.
Karlin interviews Ashley Dawson, author of Extinction: A Radical History, about the ideas contained in his book. Dawson sees capitalism as the driving force behind the extinction of so many species.
Today’s mass extinction crisis is one of the clearest indications we have of the fundamental irrationality and destructiveness of the capitalist system.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
...we must grasp that class struggle is not merely economic, and that its unfolding is not mechanically pre-determined, but must be a deliberate, comprehensive struggle against total social domination, involving the economic, political, and ideological fields. In other words, what is contested is not simply ownership and control and use of the means of production and the distribution of its output, but also political power, as well as the prevailing ideas with which we approach and interpret reality. These are intertwined and inseparable.
While the US is sure to resort to an array of punitive measures against the Philippines, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia for failing to enable its "primacy in Asia," one thing is certain. An "international tribunal" the entire world fails to recognize is no longer "international." The irrelevance of the US-backed tribunal is a harbinger of what's to come for the "international order" itself that the US poses as head of.
...the West embarked on a brutal, Machiavellian path: it decided to destroy socialist Islam – that (historically) moderate, compassionate and progressive religion. It smashed once secular Egypt; it overthrew the government in socialist Iran and then in near-Communist Indonesia, implanting in all these places horrifically degenerate and fully outdated religious concepts. It used extremists to destroy healthy patriotism and socialism. Like the Brits in the 19th Century..., the West embraced Wahhabi teaching, because it was able to guarantee full obedience, dictatorial (pro-Western) governance and oppressive feudalism.
I offer this as an excellent example of a grassroots community coming together to organize their own media. Americans of African ancestry have organized their own radio station in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Our biggest goal was to raise $1000 in donations and pledges for Black Power 96 Radio during the Black August celebration.Capitalist ruling classes certainly know the importance of propaganda. They've invested billions in it throughout the world to infect people with their ideology and to dumb down people so that they will serve capitalist interests, not their own.
Our team has an undying faith in the people, not only was our goal of $1000 met, but we nearly doubled the amount with $1800 raised! This was accomplished with the generous contributions from the attendees in the room, as well as the viewers online who watched live from theburningspear.com.
The community really responded to our message. They understood that having our own voice––our own radio station––is a critical form of resistance and part of the struggle to win self-determination.
The success of our Black August event clearly illustrates the power of the black community.
Friday, August 26, 2016
In this article Roberts reflects the dilemma faced by most Americans in the upcoming election in November. Although he exhibits a great deal of confusion over what to do, he ultimately follows the old proverb: "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". He also ends up blaming the American people for allowing this to happen.
My position on this question is, as I have stated many times, that only a revolutionary movement can counter the increasing rightward trend toward fascism and possibly prevent a nuclear war. Because I always try to face the reality such as the facts that there is no viable revolutionary movement in the US and that voting is irrelevant, I am not very hopeful
Suppose Trump were elected as Roberts prefers. This would only be a minor hindrance in the rightward political trajectory. Trump would be assassinated and replaced with a more compliant figurehead president. Suppose the scenario that I described in a recent post was realized: that the deep state would suspend the election, or refuse to accept the outcome of the election, and appoint an executive to occupy the White House--nothing would change. Or suppose that Hillary was elected, as I think is the most likely outcome: the deep state would directly proceed with its imperialist and neoliberal policies abroad and privatization policies here at home. Possibly the best we can hope for is that the directors of the deep state would finally lose their nerve after suffering many defeats in their efforts to counter the growing power of their combined opposition represented by Russia, China, and other countries, and decide to pursue a policy of peaceful coexistence.
The only real, solid hope I see for this country and the world is that a revolutionary movement could develop in the aftermath of the election in time to make a difference. This is a slim hope.
The Brazilian journalist and geopolitical analyst lays out an argument that an evolving coalition consisting of Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, China plus Hezbollah represent a "game-changer" in US Empire's plans for world domination.
I think he is right, but I worry how the hidden directors of the Empire will see this evolving threat to their plans. If they continue to receive setbacks to their imperial ambitions, will they in desperation respond with an all-out nuclear war against their rising opponents? Stay tuned, or better yet, stay active and informed so that you can be a positive influence for peace and social justice in the perilous days ahead.
I normally post the original article that other posts focus their attention on, but in this case Norton has a lot more information about the Israeli author and I have only one minor problem with his post.
The minor problem is his use of "fascist" twice to describe ISIS. In this context he uses the word only as a kind of curse word. I think words matter, and fascism should not be emptied of its meaning as a capitalist regime that rules using police state methods.
Otherwise Norton correctly sees that the conflicted views of the Israeli professor regarding the terrorist organization of ISIS as representing accurately the views of the Zionist regime in Israel, and by extension, the views of most Zionists here in the US. The professor's tortuous reasoning used to justify the existence of this terrorist organization is followed by this argument: if it is good for Israeli hegemony in the region, it is good.
...stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. The defeat of IS would encourage Iranian hegemony in the region, buttress Russia’s role, and prolong Assad’s tyranny.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy.Even though Whitney backed his interpretation of Brzezinski’s new political orientation, I was so mystified by the dramatic change that I decided to read his article (which unfortunately I didn't post back in April when it was published).
The inferences I draw from reading his article are slightly different than Whitney's who takes a rather superficial view of US politics. Although Whitney sees Brzezinski as influential, he attributes agency to official office holders like Obama and H. Clinton. In contrast I see a deep state (see this and this) that functions as decision makers behind the officials. The latter only serve to carry out orders of the deep state. In the past Brzezinski with his extreme hostility toward Russia has clearly served as a major actor in this deep state. However unless we see parallel changes in the conduct of current US foreign policies, one can only conclude that he is no longer a major influence in deep state circles. Thus far I have seen no changes.
This could be an indication that the Zionist faction, aka "neocons", are now in command of the deep state. Thus one should look at the continuing conduct of US foreign affairs to decide on who controls the deep state and place much less importance to the political campaign statements made by H. Clinton.
Otherwise Brzezinski’s article shows considerable insight about changes in the global power struggle for dominance. His Polish aristocratic background is illustrated in the article with his global power chessboard perspective and the importance he places on maintaining global order. The article also demonstrates an unusual (for him) awareness of the crimes committed by powerful nations against colonial peoples, and an awareness of the imminent problem of climate destabilization and the need for united action against its effects. Absolutely amazing!
The first part relates to the headline by applauding the Mother Jones' investigation of privatized prisons which, if you read the link to their report, you will find quite disturbing. But then he puts this in the context of a more general trend of privatization promoted by the compulsively wealth seeking ruling class.
Being a retired person trying to live on Social Security benefits, I was especially drawn to his remarks about this subject.
Republicans intend to privatize Medicare and Social Security. The road to Medicare privatization is the small percentage of medical billings that Medicare pays. Medical care providers are beginning to find that it is unprofitable to provide care to Medicare patients. When doctors cease to provide care under Medicare, the massive payroll tax revenues will be diverted into the hands of “more efficient” private providers.I can personally attest to the validity of the above statement. My cost of just my living quarters in a one bedroom apartment has increased over the past 10 years by 75.2% while my Social Security benefits have only increased 18.2% for the same period. And I have been unable to find a private practice doctor who will take me on as a patient once they learn that I don't have additional private insurance.
The road to Social Security privatization is the “reform” of the consumer price index, which under-measures inflation in order to deny Social Security recipients cost-of-living-adjustments. The continuing decline in the real value of Social Security benefits will result in large-scale economic distress. This distress will be used to discredit the Social Security system and to privatize it.
Given the high costs of U.S. healthcare, insurance is obviously the way most Americans are able to gain some kind of access to the health system.
According to the latest (January–March 2015) National Health Interview Survey (pdf), about two-thirds of Americans below the age of 65 rely on private health insurance. The rest either don’t have health insurance coverage (10.7 percent) or have some kind of public health plan (24.2 percent).
The problem is, even without the latest proposed mega-mergers, the U.S. private health- insurance industry is already highly concentrated.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The lies of the Empire will inevitably be revealed, but often only many years later. And then when we finally learn the true story of their crimes, corporate media provides very little coverage. Slowly the deceptions about 9/11 are being reported in alternative media while corporate media totally ignores such reports.
Pilger provides an accurate history of the dissolution of Yugoslavia by the Empire which became a model strategy used to destabilize other countries.
This was the model for Washington’s subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, by stealth, Syria. All qualify as “paramount crimes” under the Nuremberg standard; all depended on media propaganda. [my emphasis]
I believe that this journalist, who I remember is a Kuwaiti journalist, offers what I believe is a most accurate portrayal of a very confusing war situation in Syria. US corporate media takes advantage of this confusion by adding more confusing reports to cover for US's balkanization strategy by attempting to create "safe zones" in Syria to weaken the Syrian government. One major component of this strategy is their support of Syrian Kurds with air support and ground military advisors. Magnier also gives an updated report on the Syrian situation following the recent deterioration of relations between Turkey and the US.
Numerous articles started appearing in alternative websites--and I have posted some of them (here, here, here, and here)--which saw the Syrian Kurds as very progressive, frequently comparing their struggles with the republican left during the Spanish Civil War and portraying the region as a bastion of women's rights. Earlier this year I began to form a more accurate picture of what was really going on.
Such groups present ideal opportunities for US Empire strategists to support (or cynically use) them because their aspirations fit well with the Empire's strategy of balkanization of independent countries. So when the struggles of these groups in the latter countries no longer align with the hegemonic goals of the Empire, they will inevitably be betrayed.
So I think there is a lesson to be learned from this and the many cases of NGOs/non-profit organizations that have been funded by the rich ruling class or indirectly from the US government: never take money or other support from such sources under any circumstances.
Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 attacked the central region of the US Empire, corporate media's denial of climate destabilization has taken another form: pretending that the extreme weather we are experiencing is completely normal.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
This is a perfect antidote to all the poison being spewed by corporate media in support of further escalation of the US military campaign in Syria. He has supplied an abundance of links to solid independent sources that put the lie to Western propaganda. If you give a damn about war and peace and about honest information, then you must pass this piece on to those of your friends and neighbors whose minds are not totally brainwashed by corporate media.
Just as in all wars, the war against Syria has triggered an avalanche of propaganda. And the use of children is always a winning strategy.
During two nights in mid-August, on Milwaukee’s north side, angry crowds pelted the police with rocks and bottles, smashed police cars, while several businesses were engulfed in flame.
As usual, the police, the politicians, the media, and the supposed experts called this “a riot.” They decried the so-called “senseless violence.”
Yet, their police are armed to the teeth. And when police unleash their violence on a regular basis, these same authorities, politicians and news media don’t condemn it. They don’t decry the “senseless violence” of the police. No, they justify it!
And that’s exactly what happened after the Milwaukee police shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith during a routine traffic stop.
I don't like the way this article is written, but it is important, especially for Cubans, to discuss what kind of society they want. I will offer only some brief problems I had with the article.
First of all, there was no introduction to identify the writer. Then there were indications that this was a talk, but where and when was never specified. It was only later that I learned he was a professor at a US university. Also it seemed to me that the content was poorly organized. Basically, I think that he tries to do too much by weaving in abstract remarks about what socialism is with specific problems that coops can pose for a society.
I'm reasonably sure that many such discussions are going on in Cuba; but living in the US, I have no access to this knowledge. It would be very interesting to learn what is currently going on there.