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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sleeping Monster: The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and Its Expansive Definition of “Services”

Click here to access article by Lambert Strether and posted on Naked Capitalism

This is the best article I could find about a report entitled "Foul Play" authored by Legal scholar Jane Kelsey from New Zealand who was apparently commissioned by the UNI Global Union to report on ongoing secret meetings held by transnational corporations to promote versions of TISA in any free trade agreement.  I am posting this because I think that all social justice advocates should be aware of the continuing attempts by transnational corporations to eliminate any governmental regulations that protect workers and might interfere with the profits of transnational corporations. 

I read only the initial Summary of the report and the Introduction. (You might want to see links to the various sections of the report here--you will need to scroll down.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

A coup in the House of Saud? [updated commentary]

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times

I wouldn't post this piece except that it was authored by one of the world's most knowledgeable journalists. He seems to suggest without qualification that the US had opposed the Saudi support and sponsorship of terrorist armies trying to overthrow the Syrian government. 
Nearly a month ago, as I’ve written elsewhere, a top Middle East source close to the House of Saud told me: “The CIA is very displeased with the firing of [former Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Nayef. Mohammad bin Salman is regarded as sponsoring terrorism. In April 2014 the entire royal families of the UAE and Saudi Arabia were to be ousted by the US over terrorism. A compromise was worked out that Nayef would take over running the kingdom to stop it.”

(Added at 9:50 AM Seattle time on 7/22/2017)

Although not anti-capitalist, I recommend "Bernhard's" website, Moon of Alabama including the comments section, for excellent speculations about all happenings behind the geopolitical scenes as portrayed by the lies of media corporations. See the article on Saudi Arabia posted on the website that is related to this article.

Controlling the Narrative on Syria

Click here to access article by Louis Allday from BSNews (Britain).

Although I didn't read all of it, this article appears to me to be an excellent antidote to Empire propaganda that is spread by media corporations.
In the current environment, to express even a mildly dissenting opinion, point out basic but unwelcome facts such as the presence of significant public support for the government in Syria, or highlight the frequently brutal acts of rebel groups, has seen many people ridiculed and attacked on social media. These attacks are rarely, if ever, reasoned critiques of opposing views; instead they frequently descend into personal, often hysterical, insults and baseless, vitriolic allegations. Generally, a set of core arguments are used to denounce those who question the dominant narrative.... The policing of acceptable opinion in this way has a simple and practical function: to foster a climate in which people feel too intimidated to speak out, thus allowing the dominant narrative to remain unquestioned so that, crucially, it can continue to be utilised to generate public support for further Western intervention in Syria. ....
...this is a strategy with a well-established precedent; the treatment given to many opponents of NATO’s assault on Libya in 2011 and the US/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003 are obvious recent examples. Unfortunately, it remains an effective means to stifle dissent and establish the acceptable parameters of mainstream debate. Its success has meant that those in favour of greater Western intervention in Syria have virtually monopolised the popular debate and control the narrative.

I have not been silent on the issue in the public domain, but frankly I too have occasionally found myself feeling intimidated.

The Dream to Destroy Iran-Nuke Accord

Click here to access article by Paul R. Pillar from ConsortiumNews

I'm mostly posting this article because I had an epiphany while reading it. Do you think that it is just a coincidence that Trump has an almost visceral opposition to policies associated with Obama's administration? (This also includes his partial reversal of the Cuba restrictions.) The thought occurred to me that this opposition was an indication of his almost instinctive racism and not a matter of political principles.

Necessity: The Mother of Invention Or The Mother of Strife? [a "best post"]

Click here to access article by Bernard Marszalek from Ztangi Press. (Amended for clarity at 10:18 AM and at 5:35 PM Seattle time.)

The author takes us on a mind-expanding tour from current research through history and archeology to uncover evidence that humans need security and peace in order to realize our collective powers (as social creatures) of creativity. (Is not "creativity" the ability or power to influence an outcome in a new way?) It is clear that our Western civilization that is anchored on the dynamic engine of capitalism is becoming increasingly dysfunctional regarding these needs. This is the inevitable end result of the overwhelming power of a tiny class of capitalists who are increasingly hoarding not only wealth but power to satisfy their addiction to the latter. The power to create must belong to all the people because it is embedded in their human nature, but for this class it has become an end in itself. Sadly they have brainwashed us into being their willing accomplices or (to stick with the addiction theme) their co-dependents.
Our jobs prevent us from being creators. Or to put this another way, the false scarcity that compels us to obediently perform our daily sacrifices to maintain our miserable survival veils the real, but unacknowledged scarcity of creation. ...our condition of enslavement frustrates our species-work – the creation of culture. It is as if we are the compliant, if not the eager, agents of our own demise as evolutionary beings.

Collective intelligence manifests on a material basis as everything from jewelry to gigantic public works like the reservoirs of the Indus cities.
His tour brings us to this conclusion: 
Given the reality of economic trends however, no matter how important it is to retrieve from the bosses every ounce of the value of labor that they are stealing, we need to confront the fact that jobs are not only increasingly precarious and stupid, they are disappearing. No effort to ignore this fact by focusing on immediate demands will make it disappear. There can be no effective political movement that does not meet changing reality with radicalism.
I have difficulty with the last sentence. To me, it should read something like this. "There can be no effective political movement that does not insure security and peace for its inhabitants, and to accomplish this we must radically change the way societies currently function."  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Museum of Capitalism

Click here to access article by Bernard Marszalek from Dissident Voice
It seems appropriate...and much overdue, to put capitalism in a museum, if not a mausoleum. The old excuses for tolerating the mayhem and waste of capitalism have evaporated. It has been long past its shelf life. Stagnant wages for the employed and little promise of a solvent pension, piss-poor jobs replacing union ones, youth (and others) shackled by gig economy bondage, and intensifying socio-economic polarities describe a system, most obviously epitomized by zombie banks, on life support provided by taxpayer funds and diminished, and increasingly, stolen earnings. Austerity defines this situation. Add to these horrors a shallow and media manipulated politics, and, well, “No Future” has been the anthem of two generations and now we are going on three. 
He then goes on to give a vivid description of what is in this museum which is located in Oakland, California. I wish I still lived in the San Francisco Bay Area so that I could visit it.

REPORT: Armies of Cyber-Troops Manipulating Public Opinion

Click here to access a summary of a (linked) PDF report issued by the The Computational Propaganda Research Project at Oxford University and posted on TruePublica.org.uk.

The basic findings include:
  • The earliest reports of organised social media manipulation emerged in 2010, and by 2017 there are details on such organisations in 28 countries, including the US and UK.
  • Looking across the 28 countries, every authoritarian regime has social media campaigns targeting their own populations, while only a few of them target foreign publics. In contrast, almost every [capitalist] democracy in this sample has organised social media campaigns that target foreign publics, while political-party-supported campaigns target domestic voters.
  • Authoritarian regimes are not the only or even the best at organised social media manipulation. The earliest reports of government involvement in nudging public opinion involve [capitalist] democracies, and new innovations in political communication technologies often come from political parties and arise during high-profile elections.
  • Over time, the primary mode for organising cyber troops has gone from involving military units that experiment with manipulating public opinion over social media networks to strategic communication firms that take contracts from governments for social media campaigns. 
          [my insertions to add greater accuracy]

US Intel Undercuts Saudi Bloc to Resolve Gulf Crisis

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from Strategic Culture Foundation.
A timely leak from US intelligence appears to have undermined the Saudi-led Arab axis in its damaging spat with Qatar. So damaging was the Gulf crisis to US strategic interests in the oil-rich region that American intelligence was obliged to weigh in and resolve the festering row. That US intervention seems now to have worked.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The US Empire, the CIA, and the NGOs: An interview with F. William Engdahl

Click here to access article by Ludwig Watzal from Dissident Voice
The Ancient Greeks knew: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” No less a figure than the late Zbigniew Brzezinski and the CIA made use of this saying by recruiting the Muslim Brotherhood to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, which led to the withdrawal of the Soviets from the Hindu Kush. Since then, the CIA used the mercenaries to fight more proxy wars in the Balkans, Chechnya, and Azerbaijan. Due to the wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen the US and its vassal states created sectarian violence that led to civil wars. Right now, the CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood are present in the form of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

No one has studied this triad more intensively than F. William Engdahl who is a renowned geopolitical analyst, risk consultant, author, and lecturer.
This is the insightful introduction by a German intellectual whose interview with Engdahl focuses on Engdahl's most recent book (in German only at this time) entitled Secret files NGOs (Geheimakte NGOs). 

In the interview Watzal poses a very insightful question when he asks Engdahl:
In the old days, the conquerors brought in its wake the missionaries. Today, the Western neo-colonial powers come with hundreds of NGOs who teach the indigenous population how Western democracy is supposed to function. Do you think the NGOs serve the interest of these people? ....

Monday, July 17, 2017

MSM Mourned Liberation of Aleppo, Now Celebrates Liberation of Mosul

Click here to access article by Neil Clark from Russia Insider
The Iraqi city of Mosul. The Syrian city of Aleppo. Both 'liberated' in recent months from radical jihadist terror groups. But while one anti-terrorist operation has been lauded in the West, the other was fiercely denounced.

The very different ways in which the respective 'liberations' were portrayed tells us much about the way war propaganda works in the so-called free world.

As Anti-Trump / Anti-Russia Campaign Fails - Yascha Mounk Feeds New Lies

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama

Bernhard catches a lecturer at Harvard telling a gross lie about Russia and Putin, and finds that he is widely quoted in the Empire's media corporations. To me, this illustrates several important insights: that higher education in a class dominated social system is filled with both propaganda/indoctrination and useful intellectual skills honed by scientific principles and modes of critical thinking; how a higher education in such a system is no guarantee that graduates will be free of deceit; the tendency for elite ruling class educational institutions to hire people like Yascha Mounk; and the advanced and dangerous stage of desperation of the ruling class as evidenced by the wide dispersion of Mounk's lies and other lies about Russia/Putin in their media.


4:20 PM (Seattle time) amendment

Upon further reflection, I will state what I have argued over the past eight years that in a class ruled society every institution will be designed to serve the ruling class. Thus higher education will also conform to this principle, and the views of graduates from that system will nearly always reflect that bias. Those that don't swallow whole the values and perspectives of the ruling capitalist class will find it hard to find employment of any significance in any institution. 

Furthermore, the capitalist ruling class under the leadership of the American and Zionist capitalists has outgrown national boundaries and is now transnational having integrated capitalists of many nations that roughly correspond with the NATO countries plus Israel, Japan, and South Korea. That is why I often refer to this ruling transnational capitalist class as a US-led Empire.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

‘Til debt do us part

Click here to access article by economist David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog

Using graphs he explains how capitalists extract profits from workers in two basic ways--wages and interest. It is also clear from his graphs that banksters' use of debt to extract wealth from workers was only briefly interrupted by the last collapse of the economy in 2008.

The cult of capitalism

by cartoonist Jen Sorensen from her website

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Future Beyond Capitalism, Or No Future At All

Click here to access article by Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk from Fast Company. 
In February, college sophomore Trevor Hill stood up during a televised town hall meeting in New York and posed a simple question to Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives. He cited a study by Harvard University showing that 51% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer support the system of capitalism....
And later:
It’s not only young voters who feel this way. A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the U.S., it’s as high as 55%. In Germany, a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way?