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, April 30, 2011

A more militarized CIA for a more militarized America

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.
 The nomination of Petraeus doesn't change much; it merely reflects how Washington is run. That George Bush's favorite war-commanding General -- who advocated for and oversaw the Surge in Iraq -- is also Barack Obama's favorite war-commanding General, and that Obama is now appointing him to run a nominally civilian agency that has been converted into an "increasingly militarized" arm of the American war-fighting state, says all one needs to know about the fully bipartisan militarization of American policy. There's little functional difference between running America's multiple wars as a General and running them as CIA Director because American institutions in the National Security State are all devoted to the same overarching cause: Endless War.
I think that the appointment of Gen. Petraeus as CIA director is further evidence of imperial influences exerting more control of the US government and its Empire. 

In contrast to an intelligence operation, the CIA has, because of its secretive nature, always functioned primarily as a means of using military force to enforce the imperial policies of the ruling class. It was always employed whenever such policies and actions were illegal, or were immoral and could not be justified to the American public, and/or likely would not be sanctioned by official government institutions. 

The fact that this appointment has raised so little controversy is because the US ruling class, more than ever, prefers the use of force without having to cater to public opinion or go through the bother of getting government approval in conducting foreign policy. I think that this is more evidence that the governing capitalist class has shifted further toward a fascist style of rule.

Obama’s Birth Certificate: Not the Issue

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from Voltaire Network.
...for those who deeply examine the United States and how it has drifted from a constitutional republic to the corporate-financier oligarchy it is today, they might realize the futility of arguing over "President" Obama’s qualifications for an office that has long been ceremonial, if not entirely theatrical.
This is an argument that I have been making for quite some time (see this, this, and this), and it is good to see others discovering the same reality that hides behind a mountain of mainstream media propaganda.

Friday, April 29, 2011

What’s With the Weather? Is Climate Change to Blame?

Click here to access article by Alyson Kenward from Environment 360.
Climate models...show that global temperatures should continue to rise as concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases increase, and suggest that heat waves, severe floods, and powerful storms will also become more frequent. But most people want to know: Is it already happening?
I've noticed that mainstream media has stopped nearly all mention of climate change. The ruling capitalist class seems to think that if we ignore it, it will go away! With all the extreme weather that we have seen, I can't help but think about it. Actually, I think what we are now experiencing is only a mild version of what lies ahead if we keep ignoring the problem. The only solution is to kill the system that causes climate change, and replace it with something that is in harmony with the ecosystem.

US Hueys over Yemen

Click here to access article by Nick Turse from Asia Times Online. 

In addition to the lack of US mainstream media coverage of the anti-government protests in Bahrain, I have also noticed that the uprising in Yemen has also almost completely disappeared from their coverage. With this article Turse compensates for this lack and clarifies the real power interests informing US Empire policies.
After watching two allied autocrats fall in Tunisia and Egypt, the United States has focused on its periodic enemy, Gaddafi in Libya, and has done little of substance to advocate for, let alone facilitate, demands for democracy and social change by protesters in allied states that are more integral to its military plans in the region, including Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Instead, Washington has continued to support repressive governments to which it has provided training, weapons and other military equipment that has already been used or could be used to suppress grassroots democratic movements.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Manufacturing Poor People

Click here to access article by Vi Ransel from Global Research.  [She is Senior Editor of anti-capitalism on Thomas Paine’s Corner, a private blog, and is also a researcher and poet.] 

This author provides the best description of how neo-liberal capitalism functions throughout the world that I've seen in quite some time. The more accurate reports I've read are usually written by academics who treat the subject in rather abstract terms. This article contains real substance, the real blood, sweat, and tears of the effects of neo-liberal capitalism on working people. 

My only criticism is that she places too much emphasis on what I believe was true in recent decades: the exploitation of Western corporations of 3rd world countries to the benefit of Western countries. To be sure, this continues; but the point that I have been arguing for some time is that the world is entering a new phase where national boundaries are much less important. (She hints of this trend in the last paragraph.)

Neo-liberalism has been smashing through national boundaries in order to better exploit all workers of the world. Boundaries exist now mostly to contain and control working people. Capitalists can and do move workers easily to any place on the planet to serve their interests, just like they move their factories, farming operations, and money to anyplace where they can extract more profits. 

The end result will be a world where a tiny 1st world will exist on little islands of heavily guarded gated communities scattered throughout the world, and surrounded by huge populations of barely subsisting and heavily policed working people. This dystopia need not be our future, but it will be if we don't organize in some fashion to stop it.

Several doctrines for the same shock

Click here to access article by Eric Toussaint from CADTM.  [Éric Toussaint, doctor in political science from the universities of Liège and Paris VIII, is chairman of Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM).]

The author reveals how the political operatives of the global capitalists have shrewdly employed austerity policies a little differently in various countries based on considerations of political consequences. It really all boils down to the timing of austerity policies: brutal and immediate in less consequential countries (e.g., Greece, Latvia, Iceland, Ireland, Portugal) and delayed and more gradual in the more powerful countries. The end result is likely to be the same: workers will be sacrificed to pay for the gambling sins of the rich. 
During the first phase of the world economic crisis (2007-2009), the governments of the countries most affected by the crisis, starting with the United States, have taken strong measures [to lessen the immediate effects], drawing upon lessons of the first months following the Wall Street crash in October 1929. Back then, the lack of State intervention to support both the financial system and demand led to very grave consequences in terms of recession and bankruptcy, then to political and social radicalisation. (my emphasis)

The War on Africa’s Family Farmers

Click here to access article by Joan Baxter from Food Freedom. (Joan Baxter is a journalist, development researcher and award-winning author. Her book: Dust From Our Eyes – An Unblinkered Look at Africa)

While the world is looking ahead at food shortages, agribusiness, food distributors, and retailers see this as another opportunity for profit and plunder in Africa using a strategy that will only bring more poverty, dependency, and ecological damage to the continent.   
The ‘experts’ at the World Bank meeting spoke of boosting ‘the productivity of Africa’s farm sector, creating jobs, improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty’. You’d swear that they were kind, compassionate people sincerely interested in the welfare of Africa’s family farmers and food security on the continent. Until, that is, you examine who they are and what it is they really have in mind for African agriculture.

Afghanistan Feature: Pakistan to Karzai "Pick Us, Not the US"

Click here to access article by Matthew Rosenberg from the Wall Street Journal via EA World View.

Although this piece does not quite fit with the theme of this blog--deconstructing capitalism--it does suggest that we may be on the brink of world re-alignment of capitalist powers. Here the author provides some evidence of such a shift in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

NATO actions have been so disastrous for this Asian region that we may be seeing the approach of a tipping point that could have major repercussions for capitalist rivalries. Although not referred to in the article, the whole Mid-East is threatening NATO dominance. Such a scenario often is very dangerous for working people--witness the destructiveness of capitalist rivalries in the 20th century.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Libya: It’s Not About Oil, It’s About Currency and Loans

Click here to access article by John Perkins from the Information Clearing House.

This renowned author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man offers an explanation for the attack on Libya within a larger framework of imperial control of banking and money.
What happens when a “rogue” country threatens to bring the banking system that benefits the corporatocracy to its knees? What happens to an “empire” when it can no longer effectively be overtly imperialistic?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Wall Street Is Winning

Click here to access article by Danny Schechter from Common Dreams.

Yes, it's clear--they are winning, and I hate to see it. But, Schechter is right, and he explains how. On the other hand, they have only won the first round of battles. There are many more to come. As the lives of working people continue to sink in the swamp of global capital's neo-liberal policies, they may eventually wake up and fight back in greater numbers to turn the tide in their favor.
“They run the place,” he [Sen. Dick Durbin] said matter of factly.

The comment was then treated as a sidebar in the few newspapers that carried it, perhaps because it hinted at how interests, not ideology, dictate what happens on Capital Hill.

The remark about a shadowy power structure far more important than all the partisan in-fighting that dominates the news is worth recalling as a way of explaining how little has been done to rain
[sic] in Wall Street in the years since its crash virtually wrecked the global economy.

The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia’s Historic Bill

Click here to access article by Nick Buxton from Yes! Magazine. 
...the law requires the government to transition from non-renewable to renewable energy; to develop new economic indicators that will assess the ecological impact of all economic activity; to carry out ecological audits of all private and state companies; to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to develop policies of food and renewable energy sovereignty; to research and invest resources in energy efficiency, ecological practices, and organic agriculture; and to require all companies and individuals to be accountable for environmental contamination with a duty to restore damaged environments. 
The author claims that the law has the support of the majority MAS legislators and is likely to pass. Meanwhile the party's chief, President Evo Morales has thus far largely ignored the indigenous movements that put him into power, and has continued with business as usual with the mining interests
Raul Prada, one of the advisors to Pacto de Unidad, explained that the Mother Earth law was developed by Bolivia's largest social movements in response to their perceived exclusion from policy-making by the MAS government, led by indigenous President Evo Morales.
It will be most fascinating to see how all this will play out in Bolivian politics.

Martelly-Clinton Seal Deal for Next Wave of Disaster Capitalism in Haiti

Click here to access article by Kanya D’Almeida from UpSide Down World.

Now that Haiti has disappeared from US mainstream media, we see the reconstruction of Haiti proceeding according to the neo-liberal agenda: providing US and other Western corporations with low-cost sweatshop industrial labor and mono-crop agriculture for export while preserving the appearance of "democracy" by managing their elections. This article provides all the details.
Despite months of outrage from scores of human rights, research and advocacy organisations in and around Haiti regarding the legitimacy, mandate and professionalism of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) - which arbitrarily banned the hugely popular Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party from contesting, causing tens of thousands of urban working class Haitians to boycott the polls - Clinton happily accepted the results and, alluding to Martelly’s election slogan ‘Tet Kale’, assured him that the U.S. was behind him "all the way".

Roger Annis, a journalist with the grassroots weekly Haiti Liberte, wrote this week that Martelly’s 6 million dollar campaign cost was largely financed by what the president-elect refers to as his "friends in the U.S.", marking today’s commitment by the two heads of state to preserve their relationship as the logical next-step in the U.S.’s age-old practice of profiting immensely from "aid and development assistance" to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bahrain: Below the radar [25:04m video]

Click here to access video and article from Al Jazeera.

This video provides a good balance to the news and coverage of the Mid-East turmoil provided by the highly biased reports we are getting in Western media. Bahrain has all but disappeared from Western media coverage. The political operatives of the Empire much prefer that we focus on their favorite targets, Gaddafi and Libya, Assad and Syria--regimes which have been a bit of a thorn in the side of the Empire's rulers. Bahrain, on the other hand, as a location for the US 5th Fleet, is a prime asset of the Empire. 

This video report also covers the difficulties of covering events in the area because of the continuing management of coverage by governments allied to the US led Empire. Media coverage in post-Mubarak Egypt is of particular interest.

Western media executives also wants to divert our attention to the Royal Wedding: another way to distract us from what is really important in world events. This video satirizes this coverage with a final segment that offers an amusing parody of the Royal Wedding. 

Media coverage is a prime weapon in support of capitalist rule; and we, as working people, must direct our attention to alternative media if we are to have any chance of winning the class war that is happening throughout much of the world. Whenever you watch corporate media, you simply must be aware that what is being presented mostly serves their interests, not yours.

(For more information on political oppression and human rights abuses in Bahrain, see this.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Happened in Wisconsin?

Click here to access article by Tessa Echeverria and Andrew Sernatinger from New Socialist. 

The writers provide a good summing up of the Wisconsin fight-back within a wider context of world economic and political trends, and continue with lessons to increase the chances for public sector workers to win the class war that is now raging across the mid-western States.
We hope to begin a discussion of the context and dynamics of the Battle for Wisconsin, with the ultimate aim of drawing out key political lessons for the next phase of our own struggle in Wisconsin as well as for others preparing for their own fight-backs. 

Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System

Click here to access article by Chris Hedges from Truth Dig.
Passing bubble tests celebrates and rewards a peculiar form of analytical intelligence. This kind of intelligence is prized by money managers and corporations. They don’t want employees to ask uncomfortable questions or examine existing structures and assumptions. They want them to serve the system. These tests produce men and women who are just literate and numerate enough to perform basic functions and service jobs. The tests elevate those with the financial means to prepare for them. They reward those who obey the rules, memorize the formulas and pay deference to authority. Rebels, artists, independent thinkers, eccentrics and iconoclasts—those who march to the beat of their own drum—are weeded out.
While Obama pontificates about the need to upgrade education for the US to remain competitive, the government is obeying the commands of corporations to produce the kinds of graduates that Hedges describes so well.