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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Paradise Built in Hell

by Rebecca Solnit from Yes! website.

The author has observed a phenomenon that I also experienced--that disasters can bring out the best in people. 
Emergencies require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors, no matter how we vote or what we do for a living.

The very structure of our economy and society prevents these goals from being achieved. The structure is also ideological, a philosophy that best serves the wealthy and powerful but shapes all of our lives, reinforced as the conventional wisdom disseminated by the media, from news hours to disaster movies. The facets of that ideology have been called individualism, capitalism, and Social Darwinism....
I was living in San Francisco when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989 knocking out some bridges, highway structures, power, and causing widespread damage to buildings near the waterfront. Chaos reigned for a few days. But what immediately struck me was how people were coming to each others aid. I noticed people going out into the streets directing traffic because all traffic lights were out, and people followed their directions which helped the flow of traffic immensely. I learned of other stories about people bringing immediate assistance to injured or trapped people, about people helping people with food supplies and information. Indeed, disasters can bring out the best in people. 

So, what happened in New Orleans? To be sure there were similar stories, but there were many more that illustrated the worst behaviors that humans can exhibit. They all seemed to stem from the actions of government--a local corrupt police force, inept State of Louisiana authorities, and Federal authorities that brought in armed Blackwater troops that acted like an invading force.

The Bizarre Background of the ‘9/11’ New York Mosque

by F. William Engdahl from Voltaire

This author has uncovered evidence re the proposed Mosque construction in New York that involves some very sleazy real estate people who couldn't have had the resources to buy the property that the proposed site would be built on. This adds to the evidence other investigative journalists (see this) have uncovered that suggests a well-orchestrated conspiracy. 
At the end of the day it all fueled a “Clash of Civilization” tension across America, and had the convenient effect, whether the mosque is built on the site or not, of reinforcing the US Government version of the collapse of the World Trade towers on September 11, 2001, namely that the destruction was carried out by two commercial hijacked jets being deftly rerouted into the two towers. And that the Boeing jets had been allegedly hijacked by 19 Arab students, armed only with paper box cutters, who had just been trained at a Florida flight school to fly small Cessna-size private planes. By keeping alive the myth of the “Second Pearl Harbor,” as George W. Bush once called 9/11, perhaps some people such as Barack Obama or General Petraeus hope to keep attention on the need for US military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, or even spreading the war beyond Afghanistan.

The One Percent: These Days, Men Are the Gold Diggers

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair.

This is this week's contribution to help ordinary working folks keep connected with the one percent of Americans and their lives. In this article we learn another way to get ahead during these difficult economic times.
...there seems to be a consensus among the upwardly mobile that the nation has entered something of an economic Dark Age, where virtually all efforts to get rich the old-fashioned way through hard work and ingenuity are futile. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

The misguided reaction to Tea Party candidates

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

This liberal blogger tries to explain the hostile reaction from conservative members of the US ruling class to the Tea Party winner, Christine O'Donnell, in the recent Republican Party primary election in Delaware over an establishment Republican candidate, and some rumblings about Sarah Palin.  

Greenwald argues that classism is the source of this reaction by the ruling conservative elite.
...these Tea Party candidates differ not in their views but in their untrained, unsophisticated style of expressing those views.  They just haven't been groomed yet to comport themselves with Ruling Class mannerisms, which is what is causing most of the consternation. 
No doubt this does contribute some to the hostile reactions, but I believe that there is a much bigger factor operating here. As I have argued before (see this and this), and citing the article in the New Yorker as evidence, the ruling class has created the latest right-wing attack dogs in the forms of the Tea Party and Fox News; but there is concern now among the ruling class that the beasts are a little too wild and need to be "brought to heel" in order to better serve their class rule. Thus, as I wrote in Part 2:
I was initially quite surprised by this magazine's exposé of the right-wing in the US because the latter have been operating this way for several decades without a peep from any establishment sources.

But after further reflection, I offered the explanation posted in yesterday's article review which essentially argued that the liberal-wing of the ruling class and the more established capitalist class as a whole are concerned about the growing power and influence of the right-wing. (One must not equate the liberal-wing and the right-wing with Democrats and Republicans--the latter are pretty much inter-changeable.)

As seen by the mainstream of the ruling class, the growing influence of the right-wing over the citizenry represents reckless political behavior given the current delicate condition of the economy and the treasury-draining, never-ending wars in the Middle East. Thus I see this article in a leading ruling class publication as a call to opinion shapers and decision makers within the US to put the brakes on what they see as dangerous right-wing activities that could be destabilizing for capitalist rule.
Thus, what you see now is that the politicos are answering that call to restrain the right-wing dogs in order to avoid provoking a militant class war from below. They much prefer the more subtle, sophisticated, and hidden class warfare from above. Right now they are happy with the charming pseudo-populist in the White House to divert attention away from their attacks on working people. Of course, they want to keep the attack dogs, but on a shorter leash until such time as they really need to use them.

Groundbreaking study shows Roundup link to birth defects

from GM Watch.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world's best-selling weedkiller Roundup, causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products presently approved in the European Union.

Attacks on Working People are Accelerating

There are a number of disturbing reports about the increasing adverse effects on working people caused by the financial elite's gambling losses and the resulting economic collapse

US homes lost to foreclosure up 25 pct on year
Due to the prolonged economic meltdown, many states are now making drastic cuts in funding for social services - such as health, education, and public housing - but not on policing and prison improvement and expansion.
Number of uninsured Americans rises to 50.7 million 
A record rise in the number of people without health insurance across the nation is fueling renewed debate over a health care law that could to work better at boosting coverage than controlling costs.
Money for Prisons, Not for Social Services
Many of those who have lost their jobs and homes in the United States due to the lingering economic recession are ending up in jail, according to a new study released by an independent think tank Thursday.
Forty-four million living in poverty in the US
The number of people living in poverty in America rose to 43.6 million in 2009, the US Census Bureau reported Thursday. This is the largest number since the agency began making such estimates 50 years ago and represents an increase of 3.8 million compared to 2008.

As of last year, one in every seven Americans was poor, according to the government’s definition of poverty. The official poverty rate of 14.3 percent is the highest since 1994.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Foundations and Anthropology In The United States

by Michael Barker from Dissident Voice

By using the field of anthropology in the US as an example, this fairly lengthy article provides a detailed history of the way that the capitalist ruling class exerts a powerful influence over academia through the use of "philanthropy".

This is another illustration of how the capitalist system, as a system, functions from the top--a self-serving ruling class--down to all the subsystems in order to make this class fabulously rich and powerful regardless of the effects on the rest of society.
...despite the cynical manner by which philanthropic elites have dominated the field of anthropology, the fruits of its study are essential to any radical movement which is intent on eradicating capitalism. The point made in this article is a general one, because in anthropology, as in many other fields of scholarship, class conscious elites have used the power of capital to manage and harness the power of knowledge. What is clear is that knowledge producing networks must be reclaimed by the majority to serve the needs of all humans.

Interview with Phil Bereano: Part I

by Matt Styslinger from Nourishing the Planet.

Read how a noted scientist from the U. of Washington in Seattle views the power of the academic-industrial complex to distort the public's understanding of biotechnology in favor of simplistic notions about GMO crops. 
The central dogma of GE is this image of the genome as a Lego set, where you can take out the green one and put in a red one. In reality, however, the genome is highly fluid and the parts interact. The Lego model is quite wrong, yet it’s used constantly in public discourse, regulatory submissions, and legislative testimony. Biologists know how the genome actually works, but advancement in the profession rules out of play such subjects of discourse because they would challenge the positions taken by industry funders. Scientists who wish to break that boundary, either by scientific experimentation or by public writings, have largely been isolated and marginalized by the wealthy and the powerful within the academic-industrial complex....
Food production is another area where the capitalist system has brought profits to a few while having devastating effects on huge numbers of people. Here we see it in terms of nutrition and adequate calories, local farming economies, and migration into city slums and across borders.
The larger farmers can afford the mechanization, and the smaller ones get wiped out. Cities are growing exponentially in developing countries, and becoming ungovernable hotbeds of unemployment and crime. Nairobi doesn’t need more people coming in from the countryside looking for jobs. This poses a threat to public health, while the monoculture of the farms is a threat to food security.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Corporations Own the US Congress

by Shamus Cooke from Global Research

Most of his observations may seem obvious to followers of this blog and a lot of other people.  Indeed, the author seems to suggest this in his opening paragraph:
With the November elections quickly approaching, the majority of Americans will be thinking one thing: "Who cares?” This apathy isn't due to ignorance, as some accuse. Rather, working people's disinterest in the two party system implies intelligence: millions of people understand that both the Democrats and Republicans will not represent their interests in Congress.  
Nevertheless, it is important to keep spelling it out to those whose attention span might be a bit short and, as election time comes around, fall under the spell of campaign ads and propaganda disguised as news in the mainstream media.

It might be helpful to think of the electoral contests this way. Imagine two football teams owned by the same group of people. The players on these teams and wannabe players all compete vigorously in their games to attract the biggest salaries. The owners don't really care who wins, because they always win. 

Now if we leave this metaphor and get back to reality, we can see that this game is played on the American people, and many others, to create and maintain the illusion of "democracy", that people have a choice.

Unfortunately, his concluding paragraph is not very useful:
To get out of this vicious, dead-end cycle, unions could unite their strength to form coalitions that promote independent labor candidates: 100 percent funded by labor to govern 100 percent in the interest of working people.   All other roads lead back to the corporate lobbyists. 
Labor unions in the US are only a shell of what they use to be in the 1930s. After WWII the ruling class unleashed a right wing attack on so-called "Commies" (comparable to today's "terrorists") lead by a mentally unbalanced Sen. Joe McCarthy and others to attack labor and anyone who supported policies that benefited working people. As a result all the militant leadership were replaced by a much tamer sort. 

You see, such policies as Worker's Compensation, the eight hour day, laws giving rights to organized labor interfered with the profits of corporations and maintained taxes on the rich that were unacceptable to them.

Once they crippled the labor unions, they called off the right wing "dogs" and corporations could grow their power to the place where they are today--the owners of the political institutions and most everything else.

The capitalist ruling classes have always had their right wing "dogs" ready to attack anybody that gets in their way. (In the late 19th and early 20th centuries they used armed thugs, Pinkerton and other private police forces to beat up and assassinate union people.)  Today you can see this in the Tea Party organization and Fox News to divert attention away from the criminal conduct of the banking and finance elites and direct anger toward migrant workers and Muslims, and to reduce any public expenditures (see Contract from America) except, of course, military spending.

Silence is the Death of Liberty

from Washington's Blog

Martin Niemöller's message is updated by this great blogger.

Also, along the same lines, read this.

Don't Celebrate Mexico's Independence...Yet

by Manuel Pérez-Rocha Foreign Policy in Focus

The author provides a good assessment of Mexico's lack of independence from the Empire, and specifically examines the role of the "war on drugs" and NAFTA as the wedges the Empire uses to undermine their independence.

Stories Of Belonging [article of the month]

by Helena Norberg-Hodge from Counter Currents. This month's must read! 

The article contains so much wisdom that it needs no commentary from me. 
Realising that it's not human nature that is to blame, but rather an in-human system is actually inspiring. Looking at the bigger picture in this way is essential to effecting long-lasting change; it can also help us to realise that the same economic policies that are breaking down community are destroying our environment. As more people become aware of this, we are seeing broad-based support - from social as well as environmental movements - for a fundamental shift in direction.
Also, you may want to visit a related website to learn more about the organization she is connected with and to access similar articles and information.

That $50 Billion Infrastructure Plan

by Michael Hudson from his blog

God knows the US needs its crumbling infrastructure overhauled, but the ruling capitalists are going to make sure that they profit from it. Who better to lead this effort than the pseudo-populist Obama?
...instead of funding transportation out of tax proceeds (levied progressively on the wealthy) or by the central bank monetizing public debt, the Obama plan calls for borrowing $50 billion at interest from banks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip [11:00m video]

This is an excellent, animated video that covers all the essential issues regarding climate change. We are approaching or at the tipping point, and there are numerous positive feedback mechanisms that lie ahead which will accelerate climate change if we continue on this course. 

This video graphically illustrates a major part of the primary thesis of my blog--that capitalism is the engine which, if we allow it to continue, will drive us off the cliffs of climate change and resource exhaustion.

by Leo Murray from Vimeo. I recommend that you watch it on the full screen setting.

And here is the script

Also the video has been translated into many other languages--see this link.

IMF fears 'social explosion' from world jobs crisis

by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from the Telegraph.
America and Europe face the worst jobs crisis since the 1930s and risk "an explosion of social unrest" unless they tread carefully, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
It's great to see the ruling classes worry that their prized system may be threatened.

Exec Who Blew Whistle on Moody’s Ratings Sues for Defamation

by Marian Wang from Pro Publica.

It seems to me that this article supports the argument that many knowledgeable people in the financial services industry were aware of the developing financial explosion; but because there was just too much money to be made, they all went along with the game and the deceptions. Huge profits that are possible by gaming the capitalist system are far more addictive than any chemical drug.

Is your food making you sick?

by Nicole Colson from Socialist Worker.

The author provides an in-depth study on the latest food scandal--salmonella contaminated eggs--and "explains why the drive for profit is the reason that our food system is unsafe."

Untangling the Bizarre CIA Links to the Ground Zero Mosque

by Mark Ames from The New York Observer.

This well researched article provides substantial evidence that this incident has been an orchestrated operation to stir up anti-Muslim hate.

Time out

Good Food Is Emerging as a Real Alternative to the Dominance of Corporate Agriculture

by Grace Lee Boggs from AlterNet.
This good food evolution has usually been started by grassroots individuals who grew up in rural communities and now live in cities.

The Creepy Science Behind Genetically Engineered "Frankenfish" About to Enter Our Food Supply Unlabeled

by Jill Richardson from AlterNet.

Because US regulatory agencies serve the corporations whose sole interest is profit, we simply can't trust what they approve.
This salmon would be the first genetically engineered animal to enter the U.S. food supply, and the science behind its approval process is frightening.

Court dismisses suit alleging 'torture flights'

by Bob Egelko from the San Francisco Chronicle

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." This particularly applies to US administrations regardless of which capitalist party plays the lead role in US political theater.
The ruling is a victory for both President George W. Bush's administration, which directed the rendition program and acknowledged its existence, and the Obama administration, which promised to curb the program's excesses but argued that it was too sensitive to be litigated in court.

A Disturbing Vision for the Future of the Internet

by Christopher Calabrese from The American Civil Liberties Union

If the big telecom companies have their way, the internet will become a wasteland just like TV.
After a recent court decision questioning FCC authority over the internet, large companies like Google and Verizon seem to be signaling that they think the time is ripe to begin dividing up the internet into pieces (wireless, managed services and the “public” internet) so they can maximize profits.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why We Love to Hate Conspiracy Theories: 911 Truth as Threat to the Intelligentsia

by Denis G. Rancourt from Activist Teacher.

I think there is a bit too much rancor that informs the authors views on academic dissent in North America. Understandably so because he was fired for his political activism at the University of Ottawa. I think that a book like Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt does a much better job of explaining why academic people are reluctant to question conspiracies too deeply.  

The capitalist ruling classes are very aware of the importance of indoctrination as a relatively inexpensive and very effective form of thought control in support of capitalism. Thus, much of the academic experience, both as a student and as a career professor, is carefully supervised by key people in strategic positions who serve the Empire. 

Hence people like Robert Gates serve interchangeable roles in the CIA and academia (President of Texas A&M University) and the War (aka "Defense") Department. Notice also where the recently fired Gen. McChrystal went--he was hired by Yale University to teach a graduate class dealing with globalization and leadership to students on their way to obtaining a master's degree in international relations.

The American Occupation of Afghanistan and the Birth of a National Liberation Movement

by Prof. Marc W. Herold from Global Research

This is one of the best, and most comprehensive, articles on the background and foreground of the US invasion and occupation of this tragedy-ridden Muslim country.  
… For many people a much more visible aspect of American intervention is the steady stream of civilian casualties. And in Qalat, there is hostility to patrols by American Special Forces. From a Humvee a man gets out wearing a Stetson and sheriff’s badge, and proceeds to have a loud argument with a colleague carrying a sawn-off shotgun. As they move away, the locals stare after them. “We are so unhappy when we see them,” says Rahmatullah, a bearded 29-year-old shopkeeper watching from across the road. “When the Russians came here we fought to save our liberty and independence. So also Americans came… and so we will be fighting them.
Here is an Afghan woman being terrorized by US soldiers.

The Warped Mission of the American Military: "Out-Terrorize the Terrorists"

from Washington's Blog.

The blogger correctly identifies US military's use of indiscriminate civilian killings and torture, even of US citizens, as state sponsored terrorism designed to instill obedience among civilians. He also notes the similarity of this practice with that of the Nazis during WWII.

This supports the argument I made yesterday that capitalist classes will not hesitate to use brutal force against civilians of any country, including the US, if other means fail to work.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Flying the flag, faking the news

by John Pilger from his blog.

The author explains how liberal propagandists have functioned in capitalist countries to manage the consent of the people.
In his 1928 book Propaganda, Bernays said the “intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses was an important element in democratic society” and that the manipulators “constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country“. 
Such methods are far cheaper than the blunt instruments of a police state; but be assured that if they don't work, the capitalist ruling classes will not hesitate to use the blunt instruments of state oppression. You may have noticed that they have been preparing us to accept more and more police state methods made "legal" by the so-called Patriot Acts. 

Scientists Find Thick Layer Of Oil On Seafloor

by Richard Harris from NPR
Scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico are finding a substantial layer of oily sediment stretching for dozens of miles in all directions. Their discovery suggests that a lot of oil from the Deepwater Horizon didn't simply evaporate or dissipate into the water — it has settled to the seafloor.

Greasing The Cogs Of Corporate Environmentalism: From Exxon to BP and Beyond

by Michael Barker from Swans Commentary.

The author reviews the history of Big Oil insinuating themselves into "green" NGOs in order to deflect any serious opposition to their activities. 
The existence of such a pollution-industrial complex is intolerable, and the corporations driving and benefiting from this immensely profitable capitalist racket are certainly not going to solve the catastrophic problems facing the rest of the planet. Consequently the ball now lies in the court of the world's citizens to make sure that this sick and cynical game is swiftly brought to an end. Make no mistakes this will not be an easy task, but the ongoing battle that must be waged for the sake of life will be much easier to fight when we clarify which groups and individuals are standing in the way of our democratic future. The massive power of the capitalist elites of our world, the Rockefeller family being just one prominent example, must be dismantled and redistributed within the context of a fairer and more equitable political system. Capitalism is the antidemocratic enemy of the environment, and socialism... well, socialism is but one democratic alternative.

News International plan to sponsor academy school causes concern [in London]

by Jamie Doward, Toby Helm and Rajdeep Sandhu from The Observer

Not content with filling the minds of working people with capitalist junk news and commentary, Rupert Murdoch is expanding his right-wing influence into schools to work on the receptive minds of children. 
"The notion that Rupert Murdoch's values should infect our children is a real horror story,"....

Tea Party vs. U.S. Social Forum

from Julie Hollar from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

Should you need convincing evidence that capitalist media distorts their news coverage, you must read this.
When it comes to covering activist gatherings, corporate media have established clear standards: Numbers don’t count nearly as much as politics do.

Time out

Capitalism Isn’t Working — The Case for Socialism

by Philip Locker from Socialist Alternative.

The author cites recent evidence that socialist type ideas are starting to take hold among young people, and then deals with all the disinformation that mainstream media keeps putting out regarding socialism. This is an especially good read for all those who are still coping with these disinformation campaigns.
This growing interest has taken place in the face of a constant media barrage of free market propaganda and slandering of socialism, despite all the claims about the supposedly innately conservative nature of American workers.

Ironically, it is thanks to the rantings of right-wing blowhards like Glenn Beck and Fox News that “socialism” has been reintroduced into the popular discourse. Fox and the Tea Party have denounced Obama and any government intervention into the economy from the stimulus to healthcare reform to the Wall Street bailout as “socialism!”

Ecosocialism’s global challenge

from Green Left (original source at Canadian Dimension).

The author provides an over-view of the progress of the left, especially those who identify as "eco-socialists" to challenge the capitalist elite's path to ecocide.
“Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are…

“Humanity confronts a great dilemma: to continue on the path of capitalism, depredation, and death, or to choose the path of harmony with nature and respect for life.”

S11 ten years on — World Economic Forum blockade

from Green Left (Australia).

The global justice movement, in which Seattle in 1999 played such an important role in starting, continues to battle the global capitalists wherever they show up. This weekend these rulers of the world are meeting in Melbourne. 

The ongoing protests serve to lift...
...the veil which separates the people from the sense of their own power...; it may get nailed back up again, but it won't ever be the impenetrable wall it appeared to be before.

How much proof do the global warming deniers need?

by Johann Hari from The Independent.

The liberal author reflects on this year's dramatic evidence of global warming, expresses frustration, but avoids any linkage with the economic system and its supporters that is leading humanity to its extinction. 
Everything the climate scientists said would happen - with their pesky graphs and studies and computers - is coming to pass. This is proving the hottest year ever.