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, November 6, 2010

Two Articles on Using the Internet for Organizing

There has been a fair amount of internet discussion lately about the uses of the internet for organizing action campaigns. Here are two useful articles: 

A Response to Mark Engler's 'The Limits of Internet Organizing' by Jamie McClelland
The author makes some very important points in this response to an earlier article by Engler.
This mass movement of the world's population to the Internet, in a quest to communicate and connect with others, hasn't been missed by the corporate class. Facebook, Twitter and others, are investing millions of dollars in an effort to profit from this movement, control the Internet so it can more predictably produce profits, and restrain it's open and democratic nature.

Engel's piece not only fails to address this dynamic, but he dangerously equates the Internet with these corporations, depoliticizing the Internet as if it were just a hammer. Unlike a tool, the Internet is a fast-developing universe of political struggle. We are engaged in constantly shifting battles over whether or not the software that will increasingly control our lives should be free and open or owned by a for-profit company; who should control and have access to our data; whether our communications should be accessible to our governments; whether our ability to communicate is a right or a privilege.
Organizing in the Internet Age by Mark Engler
In this more recent article Engler provides a review of the discussion about the use of the internet for organizing and other constructive purposes, clarifies concepts related to organizing, and provides examples to illustrate the concepts.

Time for a New Theory of Money

by Ellen Brown from Yes! Magazine.  

The author provides some of the best writing on money matters for the ordinary person to comprehend. This vital subject, so long obscured by capitalist oriented academics, is necessary to understand if our economies are ever going to function for the benefit of all in an ecologically sustainable way.

Once we design and implement plans for a money management system, the next important step is to provide for the democratic planning of what is produced by the economy. Thus loans would be approved by democratically controlled bodies to insure that they went only to enterprises that added real value to society without harming the environment.

Are Cruel Years Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

by William Loren Katz from CounterPunch. [Scroll down to article.]

The author provides a realistic view about the "good old days" that libertarians and capitalists of various types often refer to. And are these "good old days" coming back? The author says that "we should get cracking" if we are to prevent them from returning.

If al-Qa'ida Really Want to Hit the West, They Can

by Patrick Cockburn from CounterPunch. [You will need to scroll down to the article.]

The author provides a good antidote to the latest al-Qaida threats propagated by mainstream media. The latter must keep the populace in a state of fear to distract them from the devastating public funding cuts that are coming.
The most enraging moment for any correspondent writing about Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen is to turn on the television and see some "talking head" pontificating about the conflicts. The self-declared expert is always glib, self-assured and irredeemably ignorant about what is going on. They are usually supportive of whatever line the government, American or British, is trying to sell. There is no health check on their credentials. Bookers who engage them for appearances on TV and radio never seem to run a simple check on their knowledge by asking when they were last in the country they claim to know so much about.

Enjoy the Rich-Bashing While it Lasts

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair.  [my remarks are mostly sarcasm]

The author provides our Saturday offering of information about the one percent of our fellow Americans who rule over us, sponsor our elections, and screen the information about the world that we receive from their media. It is important that we understand all their concerns and issues. 

In this article the author sees bashing the rich as a temporary, election kind of phenomenon that will, once again, pass now that the elections are over. I'm sure this periodic display must, at the very least, hurt the feelings of the one percent, and may even frighten many who fear that the "unwashed" hordes will come to their neighborhoods to take away their toys and even harm them.

With regard to hurting the feelings of the rich, I didn't see much of that here in Washington State where I live. People were given the rare opportunity to tax the rich with an income tax for those with incomes over $200,000, and they voted it down . 

Apparently people here are more respectful of the rich and don't wish to offend them. It seems that the people of Washington State would much rather layoff teachers, firemen, close libraries, and cut back on services to the poor.

On a more serious note, I am most appreciative of this author whose 2007 documentary entitled, "The One Percent", I saw last night. Although Mr. Johnson is no flaming radical, he is a decent member of this exclusive club, and as such, he was able to gain access to many prominent members of his class to ascertain their views on the growing gap between the rich and the poor. This is a must-see film. I got the film through that company that mails them to subscribers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Election Reactions:

My own: oh hum (yawn), another theatrical performance put on by the ruling class to create the illusion among the "little people" that they have a choice and live in a "democracy".

"Outrage, Misguided" by Noam Chomsky from In These Times.
...there are...lessons to keep in mind as we register the consequences of another election cycle. No shortage of tasks waits for those who seek to present an alternative to misguided rage and indignation, helping to organize the countless disaffected and to lead the way to a better future.
"Dissatisfied Mind: Flickers of Hope in a Deadly Political Cycle" by Chris Floyd from his blog.
What is less heartening, of course, is the fact that the American electorate never quite grasps the obvious, glaring, brutal fact that neither of these factions is ever going to change the system one iota if they can help it; they are the system, they are its servants, its enablers, its en-actors.
"Obama, Republicans prepare for joint assault on American workers" by Patrick Martin from World Socialist Web Site.
Obama concluded [his press conference remarks] with...“The reason we’ve got a unparalleled standard of living in the history of the world is because we’ve got a free market that is dynamic and entrepreneurial, and that free market has to be nurtured and cultivated.”

What “unparalleled standard of living” is Obama talking about? American workers who are facing levels of poverty, unemployment and social misery unprecedented in three-quarters of a century might respond with an impolite gesture.
"America is now officially for sale" by Johann Hari from The Independent.
The laws and policies of the legislature of the United States of America are now effectively on e-Bay, for sale to the highest bidder. Are you a Wall Street boss who wants to party like it’s 2007? Are you a Big Coal baron who wants to burn, baby, burn? Are you an insurance company that wants to be able to kick sick people off your rolls?

Federal Reserve Rains Money On Corporate America -- But Main Street Left High And Dry

by Shahien Nasiripour from Huffington Post

The author provides a lot of details on the current and recent operations of the Fed, and how it benefits its own class of people and the corporate engines that drive US capitalism. 
Sitting atop a record $1.8 trillion in cash and other liquid assets, non-financial U.S. firms are awash in wealth, Fed data show. Relative to their short-term liabilities, U.S. corporations haven't been this flush since 1956. By that same measure, their balance sheets are twice as strong as they were just 15 years ago.

Dismantling the Iraqi State, Destroying an Entire Country

by Dirk Adriaensens from Global Research

This is a comprehensive, well-documented report on the destruction of Iraq that the author presented to the United Nations. I don't necessarily recommend that you read it all--it is very difficult reading, especially for any decent American. (I confess that I only skimmed it.) But I think it a good idea to bookmark or tag it to keep it as a reference.  Crimes against humanity must not be forgotten even when it is the ruling class of one's own country that has committed the crimes.

If you would like to know more about the most infamous war criminal of the US, listen to this former CIA officer's interview with Press TV. (6:34m video)

The new barbarism: Keeping science out of politics

by Andrew Leonard from Salon

Although the author sees the obvious intent of the most aggressive section of the capitalist class, he is only able to identify them as "climate skeptics". The fact that they are all funded either directly or indirectly by carbon spewing and polluting industries doesn't enter into his otherwise fine report. (See this, this, this, and this.)
Climate skeptics reach a new low. Their goal: Don't let scientists influence policy, period. 
People employed by mainstream media, and I classify Salon as mainstream, are unable to identify the real, underlying, systemic causes of the attack on science. The ruling capitalist class will never let anything to get in the way of their pursuit of profits, the most powerful addiction of all, that will lead humanity, unless we stop it, to its ultimate destruction.

The author is correct in stating that the attack on science is the new barbarism. What he misses is that the system itself is barbaric because it will never allow truth, destruction of habitat, or destruction of humanity to keep the capitalist class from enjoying its addiction.

How to beat the media in the climate street fight

by Simon L. Lewis from Nature News

This scientist recalls his battle with mainstream media over reports that incorrectly used his statements to support climate change skepticism. He therefore asks... 
So what should scientists do when reporting quality falls off a cliff? Earlier this year, I was seriously misrepresented by a newspaper and thrown into a political storm. Rather than take it lying down, I set the record straight. It has been an odd journey, and I think there are lessons for how we scientists should deal with the media.
He then provides the details of his battle with the media and then offers suggestions to scientists on how to handle media reporters in the future.
Do your research. What is the reporter's track record? Anticipate that every sentence you say or write may be dissected and interpreted in the least charitable manner possible. And if things go wrong, seek advice from public-relations experts, and where necessary, media lawyers.
How many scientists have time to do that? And I don't think in the end one can ever defeat corporate media's role in reporting events that suits the interests of the ruling capitalist class. It seems to me that the only real solution is to boycott those media corporations who violate journalistic standards and report only to those who abide by them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Midterm Election Further Demonstrates The Need for Revolution

by David DeGraw from Amped Status

It is encouraging to encounter fellow Americans like David DeGraw who are "connecting the dots" on the way the system of capitalism works, and the way it doesn't work for the vast majority. And he is also learning from painful personal experience that opposing the system doesn't pay well. However he hasn't yet quite got to the point of blaming the system itself--he points the finger at the "economic elite". He keeps referring to the mythical "Founding Fathers" and thinks that everything they did was wonderful and that this current economic elite is the problem. He writes:
The Economic Elite have engineered a financial coup and have brought war to our doorstep. . . and make no mistake, they have launched a war to eliminate the US middle class. [A part of American mythology is that everyone who is not rich is in the "middle class".]
This is where I part company from him. The system of capitalism which our "Founding Fathers" established in this country was always an exploitative system, even worse then than now for most people--slaves, indentured workers, landless farmers, and other laborers (Native Americans were regarded as "savages" and sitting on land that the elites were planning to steal). The Founding Fathers were the economic elite of their time. There were no working people represented at the founding of the US Constitution. (Read the classic study by Charles A. Beard.)

The system has always been good at exploiting people and the environment to profit the few, and over the centuries a lot of this wealth has trickled down to the many. But along with the growing standard of living has come numerous and devastating wars caused by rival capitalists to gain control of markets and resources. 

Beginning in the 1970's what has been changing for ordinary Americans is that they no longer occupy a privileged position by being located in the most powerful capitalist country. Technology has enabled capitalists to go global. Thus US capitalists no longer need or want American workers except to fight their wars. A career in the military (if it doesn't kill you) is now the best way for an average American to obtain a good living, free medical services, early retirement, and a good pension.

However, the article provides excellent material for raising the anemic American political consciousness to action:
...it’s time for YOU to lead. It’s time for YOU to get involved. Build your own army. Once you start paying attention and put in some time to do the research, you will clearly see for yourself that both parties are working against your interests. You will also see how critical the situation is and realize that you can no longer be passive and expect to keep living a healthy and secure lifestyle. We are going to be tested in ways we have never been tested before. We cannot get away with being apolitical anymore. It’s time for us to pay attention, to become directly involved in the decision-making processes that guide our life. I know this is something that most people don’t enjoy and don’t want to do, but the consequences of our inaction will be much worse than anything we have ever experienced.

What Marx Got Right

by Alex Knight from The End of Capitalism

The author takes a critical look at Marx's contribution to the understanding of history and the development of capitalism, points out the errors, and preserves the gems.

For example, his concept of "superstructure" or the ideological component of class rule is a gem:
Hegemony is a highly relevant idea to our situation today, especially in the United States where the population is thoroughly indoctrinated with the mythology [superstructure] of capitalism – seeing the system as positive and liberating, rather than violent and destructive as it actually is. However, if the base of the American economy continues to deteriorate as it has, Marx would suggest the superstructure is sure to follow, and a revolutionary change is perhaps not far around the corner.

Anti-Communism 101: Hijacking History

by William Blum from Foreign Policy Journal

Real information is so thoroughly repressed or distorted in the US that we Americans often must wait for the passage of time to find out what really happened. The author of this piece provides some very interesting revelations and corrections to the US propaganda version of history regarding Greece, Brazil, and the Cold War. 
The cases of Brazil and Greece were of course just two of many leftist governments overthrown, as well as revolutionary movements suppressed, by the United States during the Cold War on the grounds that America had a moral right and obligation to defeat the evil of Soviet communism that was — we were told — instigating these forces. It was always a myth.
The ruling capitalist class always hides its goal of accumulating more wealth under various themes such as Manifest Destiny, fighting communism, protecting the "free" world, War on Drugs, and War on Terror.

France says No

by Serge Halimi from Le Monde diplomatique
If capitalism is to survive, society will have to pay the price: endless evaluations [mis-translation? maybe "price increases"], more competition between workers, exhaustion and bitterness.

The Impotence of Elections

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts from Global Research

When a former member of the Reagan administration writes stuff like this, you know things are getting serious.

Still, the vast majority of Americans are confused, misdirected, distracted, and ignorant of their own interests. For example, in my own State of Washington, after a well-funded media barrage urging a "no" vote, the citizens, like sheep going to their slaughter, rejected a ballot measure to establish a State income tax only for people earning over $200,000! Meanwhile their schools, public and social services are being severely slashed. Once again, when given the rare opportunity to vote on something meaningful, they voted against their own interests!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Fraud Started At the Very Top: With Government Leaders

from Washington's Blog

Another fine blog article except for the headline which is very misleading. In the article the author writes:
....the fraud started at the very top with Greenspan, Bush, Paulson, Negraponte, Bernanke, Geithner, Rubin, Summers and all of the rest of the boys.
All of these people, except for Bush (Jr) and Negraponte derive their power and influence directly from the major banks and Wall Street. It is extremely misleading to characterize them as "government" leaders. The fact that such people move in and out of government positions does not alter the fact that their power in based in the financial institutions--Goldman Sachs is most prominent.

Economists: The Unholy Priests of the Banksters

by Gabriel Donohoe from his blog Fools Crow's Blog

While I try to untangle the webs of mystery created by bankers over money matters, I always try to stick to well qualified sources of information. This writer does not appear to meet that test. However, based on my current studies of money matters and the influence of Stephen Zarlenga on his views, I feel that he knows a lot about the subject. Moreover, in contrast to most writers on this bankster-obscured subject, he writes in a language that ordinary people can understand. 
Since 97% of the money in the world is created from debt, any loans paid off decreases the amount of money in circulation. And when no further loans are given, the circulating money stock falls dramatically, adversely affecting businesses and the economy at large. This intentional reduction of the money supply leads to widespread business failures, high unemployment, foreclosures on property, and severe hardship within the community. On the other hand, great wealth is transferred from defaulting borrowers to the banksters. It is an act of gross criminality and systematic fraud.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Phantom Left

by Chris Hedges from TruthDig

The author looks at the recent two Washington Mall performances put on by media celebrities to manage the increasing anger of people who are suffering from the bankster engineered economic collapse. He notes that both groups, the right-wing and the liberals (I wish Hedges would stop describing them as a class), used their performances to attack a phantom radical left. What is the significance of these performances?

They both were performed because the capitalist ruling class fears any radical left forming in reaction to the current economic crisis. Because of the economic collapse, there is bound to be criticisms of, and attacks on, the capitalist system. They were both performed precisely to prevent this from happening. They were both designed to head off any discussion of alternatives to business as usual under capitalism. This is all a part of the ruling class' "manufacturing consent" program.
The modern spectacle...is a potent tool for pacification and depoliticization. It is a “permanent opium war” which stupefies its viewers and disconnects them from the forces that control their lives. The spectacle diverts anger toward phantoms and away from the perpetrators of exploitation and injustice. It manufactures feelings of euphoria. It allows participants to confuse the spectacle itself with political action.
Also, check out William Blum's observations about Jon Stewart's Mall performance.

Capitalism and the Curse of Energy Efficiency

by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York from Monthly Review

There are many who argue that increasing efficiencies can greatly contribute to the effort at controlling resource exhaustion. The article explores this thesis and provides evidence to show that under capitalism it only results in more production which leads to more resource exhaustion. 
...there are those who maintain that we should “live high now and let the future take care of itself.” To choose this course, though, is to court planetary disaster. The only real answer for humanity (including future generations) and the earth as a whole is to alter the social relations of production, to create a system in which efficiency is no longer a curse—a higher system in which equality, human development, community, and sustainability are the explicit goals.

Rising Seas and the Groundwater Equatio

by Felicity Barringer from The NY Times.

As Richard Heinberg wrote, it's "peak everything", and that includes water. This article examines the unsustainable rate at which water is being pumped from aquifers throughout the world to irrigate crops.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Parent's Nightmare

by Sara Mullen from the American Civil Liberties Union

The nightmare that this couple experienced is due to the recent decades of civil rights reverses directed by the capitalist ruling class of the US. 

I think it began with the killing of the Kent State University students for protesting against the war in Vietnam. No one was charged with any crime or even disciplined. The anti-war movement and the rest of the country was shocked by the incident. The mainstream media tried to manage the damage by offering rationalizations. But, nevertheless, the government of the ruling class got away with it without suffering much damage. This, I believe, emboldened them. 

After the war was over, the right-wing fringe organized and went on the offensive against all the  outrageous (to them) anti-war, pot-smoking generation of civil rights and anti-war activists. Under Nixon they launched the "War on Drugs" which resulted in relaxed search and seizure policies and dramatic increases in arrests and imprisonment of citizens. Then they managed to get the Hollywood actor, Ronald Reagan, elected to bust unions and increase police enforcement policies under the "War on Drugs". As a result by 2005 the US had the highest percentage in the world of its citizens in prison.  

The election of George Bush, Jr. brought the "War of Terror" and the Patriot Acts which further curtailed civil liberties and led to increased surveillance of citizens and human rights abuses that in their most extreme form permitted renditions of citizens to overseas detention centers where they were tortured (see this and this). The end result of the right-wing campaign has been the virtual shredding of civil rights under the Constitution. All of these actions has made it permissible for the Pennsylvania county agency and the police to come to this couple's home and snatch away their newborn baby. 

US: myth of the two party system

by Cindy Sheehan from Al Jazeera.
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights.
The author speculates on what policies would have been pursued if McCain had been elected President instead of Obama in order to tease out the differences between the two US parties. What do you think she found?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fraud Caused the 1930s Depression and the Current Financial Crisis

from Washington's Blog.

Learn some history of the Great Depression and how capitalist frauds created it. You see, the system fosters fraud. It has caused the lurching from one economic crisis to another from its beginning. The current economic crisis is only the latest in a long history of such crises.

Industrial capitalism had its origins in the UK with the increasing mechanization of production and use of water power, then accelerated by the invention of steam powered engines which could process large quantities of wool. The owners of the land discovered they could make a lot more money by raising sheep than collecting rents and other income from small farmers. Hence they drove the small farmers off the land and forced them to emigrate to their colonies (The Enclosure Movement, read also The Great Transformation by Polanyi). 

Capitalist ruling classes continued to expand their enterprises by the invasions of other lands to establish their colonies. In the 20th century the system has resulted in the horrific wars fought by the capitalist ruling classes for the control of resources and markets. Now in the 21ist century the same ruling classes are targeting their own populations to extract more wealth. 

If we don't change it, we will continue to go from one economic crisis to another--and worst of all, it will finally destroy the environment that sustains human life. We have no choice except to fight for our survival as a human race. 

Scotland: Not if people fight back, but how

by Colin Fox from Green Left

The author knows that we must fight the cutbacks, just doesn't know yet how. In any case, he does make a very good case for fighting back. Because the causes are the same everywhere, the cuts are coming to all areas of the Empire. Once working people understand the causes and the necessity to fight back, they will figure out what to do. 
...those who caused the crisis are forcing those who didn’t to pay for it. That’s the blatant injustice at the heart of this debate. It is a con, a “Con-Dem con”.

The rich and all their kept politicians now insist on two “fundamental truths”. First that there is no alternative to inflicting lacerating cuts in our vital public services like health, education, transport, housing and care if we are to reduce our debts.

The second is equally false — that “we are all in this together”.

The Crisis of Credit Visualized [11:10m video]

by Jonathan Jarvis from The Crisis of Credit (on Vimeo). 

Although this is not a current post, I found the video to be an excellent portrayal of the credit crisis, precipitated by the mortgage meltdown, that may help you to understand what happened.