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, May 7, 2011

Humanitarian Neo-colonialism: Framing Libya and Reframing War

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from VoltaireNet.

The author discusses the international use of two new doctrines to justify the Empire's attacks on governments that promote more independent policies. It reminds me so much of the framing of questionable policies within the US used by political operatives to manipulate public opinion in support of imperial policies and a crackdown on dissent within the US: "national interest", "national security", "war on terror".

The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth

Click here to access a book review by this title, reviewed by Simon Butler from International Journal of Socialist Renewal. The authors of the book: John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York.

Butler ends his review with this statement:
How exactly such a “universal revolt” against capitalism can be brought into being cannot be answered by any book. It can only be discovered through struggle. And engaging in a struggle aimed at ecological revolution is, in itself, no guarantee of success. But if people-centred solutions to the ecological crisis are sidelined we can guarantee that the capitalist elites will impose their own barbaric solutions, solutions that will have even greater human and ecological costs. This means, in a sense, that we’ve all got our backs to the wall. The Ecological Rift makes clear that the world’s workers and poor are left with no other option – we’ve got to fight.
Capitalism is on a collision course with our planet's ecosystem. The survival of the human race and many other life forms are now at stake in the struggle to stop this system. A life affirming, sustainable economic system is not only possible, it is now mandatory.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Legal Scholar Steve Kohn on Bradley & the Travesty of Justice

Click here to access audio recording [4:23m] from Sibel Edmond's Boiling Frogs Post. 
Last Tuesday Peter B Collins and I interviewed Mr. Stephen M. Kohn of National Whistleblower Center on his recently released book, corporate and government whistleblowers, whistleblower laws, and upcoming legislation. During the interview we asked him about the Bradley Manning case.
As I have argued previously, the "democratic" facade of capitalist US is crumbling to what we have now: very little compliance with the rule of law, and increasing uses of "national interests" and "national security" to justify any action regardless of its non-compliance with the Constitution and rule of law. This is an indication of continuing movement toward the use of the hidden fist of fascism that capitalists always resort to whenever they decide it is required. 

For me, this situation calls forth two basic questions: why are they so blatantly employing it now? Do they--the Empire's ruling capitalist class--feel increasingly threatened? Or, do they feel emboldened by getting away with so many war crimes and bank scams?

The Agendas Behind the Bin Laden News Event

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from Foreign Policy Journal.

The author makes another good case for regarding the Bin Laden event as another psyops used to manipulate public opinion and speculates about the possible motives.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Anomie: On Civil and Democratic Disobedience

Click here to access article by Costas Douzinas from New Left Project. (Costas Douzinas is Professor of Law – Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, University of London)
When policies and laws become unenforceable through extensive disobedience it is clear that a government is losing its legitimacy. ...From Antigone, to the campaigners for workers rights, pacifists, suffragettes, conscientious objectors and civil rights campaigners, disobedience is not illegality. It is the outward sign of moral conscience and of political fidelity to the principles of justice and democracy. Disobedience is both the highest moral act and a collective political event. Throughout history it has changed regimes, constitutions and laws as we are currently witnessing in Egypt.
The writer is clearly Greek and writes from a liberal Greek perspective on the increasing resistance of the Greeks to obey law and official authority that has developed during the recent economic crisis. 

His essay hinges very importantly on the distinction he makes between two concepts that he uses in a narrow Greek sense: paranomia and anomie. Essentially "paranomia" refers to lawlessness and "anomie" refers to the breakdown of social norms, ethics, and values. It is the latter concept which he argues justifies the present protests, civil and democratic disobedience that is now occurring in Greece. This is an interesting and quintessential argument that liberal intellectuals in general use to justify disobedience to laws and authority.

I think that these issues are much easier to understand if one examines society from a class point of view.  In a class structured society a legal system is used as merely another means for the ruling class to control those classes over which it rules. In a capitalist society the ruling class are, of course, capitalists--those who own and/or control the wealth produced by the subservient class of workers. 

The legal system under capitalism is a part of the whole ideological system of beliefs (indoctrination about "democracy" in schools and media, managed elections, the virtues of obedience to authority, etc.) to justify this arrangement in order to provide it with an appearance of legitimacy. Thus workers are much more likely to accept this arrangement with all it disadvantages if they believe that it is right and proper. However, if it becomes obvious to them that those of the ruling class are ignoring or flouting their own laws, or that the laws are enforced differentially according to class, anomie sets in--people no long believe in the fairness of such laws and related conduct. In other words, "the jig is up!"

If you follow this argument, it becomes clear that a fair system of justice is impossible in a class structured society.

Surveillance state: 'We're not domestic extremists' [4:24m video]

Click here to access video by Rob Evans, Paul Lewis and Rachel Stevenson from the Guardian.

Here we see the reality of a police state that is emerging from behind the celebrated "democratic" facade. Increasingly we see protestors being treated as "terrorists" which allows the police state to deal with them accordingly. The capitalist Empire wages its war on "terrorism" against any opposition to its rule whether in Kabul, Baghdad, Seattle, or Brighton (England). Hence, what is called a "war on terror" is really a war waged by capitalist interests on working people everywhere in the world. Therefore, we must fight back everywhere by exposing their lies and their crimes against humanity and the ecosystem that sustains all life.


An independent homeland or bantustan in disguise? [Palestine]

Click here to access article by Haidar Eid from The Electronic Intifada.
 What needs to be addressed is an historical human vision of the Palestinian and Jewish questions, a vision that never denies the rights of a people, which guarantees complete equality and abolishes apartheid — instead of recognizing a new Bantustan 17 years after the fall of apartheid in South Africa.

Anti-Drug War Movement Emerges in Mexico

Click here to access article by Kristin Bricker from Upside Down World.
After four years of war that has left nearly 40,000 people dead, countless more disappeared, and soldiers on the streets of every state in the country, many Mexicans are finally "fed up" with President Felipe Calderón's drug policy. This weekend, Mexicans in at least 25 of the country’s 31 states will protest to “stop the war, for a just and peaceful Mexico." Protests are also planned in solidarity in at least twelve cities in Europe, Canada, the United States, and Brazil.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How bin Laden died: Psy Ops in action?

Click here to access article by Mike Doyle from McClatchy News Service.

I think Brennan's performance illustrates how much the Empire's political operatives enjoy playing with the minds of the American people. They have gotten away with the practice for so long that they are easily tempted into doing it. 
White House officials are now correcting some vividly recounted details about how Osama bin Laden died. Or, just maybe, the psychological operations work in shaping public perception is now complete.

Sports, Osama, and the new normal

Click here to access article by Dave Zirin from Al Jazeera.
After 9/11, American sports have exploited the hunt for Osama bin Laden, promoting a culture of war.
It's clear that full spectrum dominance is not just a military concept--it's also about dominating the minds of its citizens. An essential aspect of the Empire's strategy of "full spectrum dominance" is the use of all available cultural elements to promote the Empire's agenda in the minds of its citizens.

Egypt's Labour Day rally mobilises workers

Click here to access article by Mona Dohle from Al Jazeera.
The country's revolution has radicalised millions of Egyptians and energised the nation's political left.

The coup in Cote d’Ivoire

Click here to access article by Jean Damu from the San Francisco Bay View [US]. 

Neo-colonialism rears its ugly head once again, this time in the Ivory Coast. Africa's resources are attracting many predatory capitalists like vultures to dead meat. I've been seeing more and more articles about land and resource grabs by Saudi Arabia, China, and many Western multi-national corporations. Much of the theft of the continent's riches is being facilitated by various Western armed forces either overtly or, more often, covertly. And, of course, the events are either ignored, or if reported, are reported with the usual "humanitarian" and "human rights" propaganda framing.
As peace loving and progressive forces in the West and in the U.S. in particular deliriously celebrated the awakening of pro-democratic movements in white dominated Islamic countries that routinely and officially kick Blacks to the curb, growing evidence suggests the West, led by France, engineered a political and military coup in Cote d’Ivoire that some say is designed to re-colonize that country.

Predator Drones To “Stop Genocide”?

Click here to access a transcript of an interview with Keith Harmon Snow from AfroBeat Radio.

In my opinion, Snow is the best informed independent investigative journalist on issues related to Africa. In this interview he is largely responding to the propaganda piece carried by Wired Magazine and repeated in many other media outlets.
AfrobeatRadio producer Ann Garrison spoke to journalist, human rights investigator, and electrical engineer Keith Harmon Snow about the lobbying campaign to use General Atomics’ Predator Drones “to stop genocide” in Africa.

Corporations Investing Tax Break Windfall In Politicians

Click here to access article by John Del Signore from the Gothamist. 

This article illustrates how capitalist style "democracy" works.
ExxonMobil, Bank of America, General Electric, Chevron and Boeing had combined profits of $77.16 billion in 2010 but paid $0 in federal income taxes, according to a new report from NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, who is outraged that many massive corporations are getting incredible tax breaks while also pouring money into political campaigns.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why the Planes Were Not Intercepted on 9/11

Click here to access article by Kevin Ryan from Foreign Policy Journal. 

This fairly lengthy article focuses on two key figures that failed to alert US air defenses against the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It explores their critical roles and their backgrounds and the failure of the 9/11 Commission to critically examine them. Both of their backgrounds are of most interest as well as several other characters he discovered that had ties to covert operations. The author arrives at this conclusion:
When a new, honest investigation is finally convened, it should look into why a lawyer, who knew how to handle evidence and get financiers off the hook, was experiencing his first day on the job as national operation manager at the FAA.  And If 9/11 was a “special operation” as many people now suspect, that investigation might consider that a number of special operations specialists were in place to ensure that the operation went off without a hitch and was not discovered.  Long-time special operations leaders like Michael Canavan, Hugh Shelton, Brian Michael Jenkins, and Richard Armitage played critical parts with respect to the facilities, events, and official story of 9/11.
For further information from a reliable source about this controversial tragedy, I recommend the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

Cheering for war and empire

Click here to access article from Socialist Worker. 
After years in which its wars have become more and more unpopular, the U.S. political and military establishment finally has a "success" to celebrate.

Crowds celebrate outside the White House as Barack Obama announces the killing of Osama bin Laden 

I think that the Empire's Mighty Wurlitzer (propaganda machine) is trying to revive the public's support for war while distracting them from the continuing corporate assault on social safety nets, environmental regulations, Medicare, education, and worker's rights.

May Day: Asia's socialists -- Intensify the struggle against poverty and neoliberalism [8:15m video and article]

Click here to access video and article from International Journal of Socialist Renewal. 

I need to remind my fellow citizens that the international workers celebration of May Day originated in Chicago following the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886 when workers marched for an eight hour work day.

In an ongoing effort to deny working people their history, the governing class in the US has always resisted the celebration of May 1st as any kind of celebration for working people. It is interesting to note that in 1958 Congress officially declared  May 1st as "Loyalty Day" which has never caught on with the public. Loyalty Day was an appropriate designation because it really emphasized the demand that workers must be loyal (subservient) to the governing class of capitalists. 

Meanwhile, this video and article illustrate that May 1st is still celebrated by working people in many parts of the world, and focuses specifically on a demonstration-celebration in Malaysia for worker's rights.

Who will reshape the Arab world: its people, or the US?

Click here to access article by Tariq Ali from the Guardian.
Phase one of the Arab spring is over. Phase two – the attempt to crush or contain genuine popular movements – has begun

Vandana Shiva on the Corporatization, Commodification and Marketization of Nature [7:51m video]

Click here to access video sourced from Democracy Now! via Transcend Media Service.
Democracy under corporate control has mutated from of the people, by the people, for the people into of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. So it is the democratic rights of the people and the earth versus the fictitious corporate rights that corporations have assigned to themselves.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dead Man Rising

Click here to access article by Linh Dinh from Dissident Voice.

Mainstream media in the US is having an orgy reporting on the killing of Bin Laden. But, I couldn't agree more with the author's suspicions about this incident. It reminds me so much of the 9-11 tragedy following which the structural metal debris from the site was quickly removed and shipped to China, and also John Kennedy's assassination and subsequent coverup. It is likely that the real facts will eventually emerge after several years, but will go unreported in mainstream media.

See also this, this, and this for more doubts about the official story. 

In addition to the quick disappearance of his body, what I find most unbelievable about the official story is the claim that the source of Bin Laden's location was based on information from detainees in prisons like Guantanamo. These people have been held there in isolation for many years--how could they be in possession of any reliable current information? But this part of the story goes a long way to justifying the holding of these prisoners without any kind of due process.

Please See Your Doctor Should Viagra Lead to Rape

Click here to access article by Kathleen Wallace Peine from Dissident Voice.

If you swallowed the Bin Laden story, you will definitely believe this one.
It has been evident for years that the American MSM has been sliding into the dark role of government policy facilitator, but at least until recently there was something of a muddled attempt to feign credibility. That pretense is now completely gone. Hell, forget journalistic credibility; we’ve entered an era of storytelling freakery that knows no bounds.

Corporate Fascism Marches On

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from The Leftist Review.
...there are few issues with such broad bipartisan support as the Colombian Free Trade Agreement. ...It is one of three Free Trade acts now awaiting Congressional confirmation, along with South Korea and Panama. It has been said that insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome. If that is so, then, Free Trade must qualify as the height of insanity.
Of course, it is insanity from the point of view of ordinary working people. You know, the people who actually produce and create things and services, some of which enriches our lives, but much of it is useless, wasteful, and harmful products that destroy lives and the environment. 

Under capitalism we working people do not decide how we use our productive labor. That is decided by those who claim to "own" the enterprises in which we work under the laws of capitalism, laws which capitalists have established to serve themselves. What is produced is determined by how profitable it is for investors, not how well they serve human needs. So, from their point of view support of "free trade" policies does, indeed, serve their interests as he demonstrates throughout the rest of the article. 

Hence, supporting such policies is perfectly rational for them. Once you accept a capitalist system, you must accept the consequences. It was designed only to serve the needs of a very tiny minority of people who lay ownership claim to our economy.

Another point also needs to be made about the relationship between capitalism and fascism. So-called Western democracies use carefully managed forms of representative government, constitutions, and elections  to provide an appearance of "democracy", and comprehensive indoctrination via the institutions of education and media to insure that people believe in this facade. 

When people stop believing in appearances and fight back against this tiny class of "owners", the latter are always prepared to use force to subdue the people. This is when fascism rears its ugly head. Hence, fascism must be seen as a integral part of capitalism and employed whenever appearances give way to reality and the system is threatened.

A system that truly promotes freedom and human fulfillment for all would provide working people with the opportunity to decide some of the most important decisions of their lives--what products and services that they will produce or create, how they will be produced, and how the wealth will be shared and used from this process. That would be a true democracy. 

Behind election smokescreen: Canada’s elite prepares all-out assault on Medicare

Click here to access article by Louis Girard from World Socialist Web Site.
Even as the population is purportedly determining through the May 2 election the policies Canada’s government will pursue in the years ahead, big business is outlining the real agenda that will be implemented by the political elite.

Chief among its priorities is an assault on what remains of the welfare state and especially the universal public health insurance system, Medicare.
In spite of years of chipping away at funding for the program by the Canadian ruling class, the program remains hugely popular by all except the wealthy.  

People and organizations who have campaigned in the US for a single payer universal health care program have often pointed to Canadian Medicare as a low-cost, successful example of such a program. Thus, the Canadian program has been a major thorn in the side of the US insurance industry and their supporters. I have my suspicions that political operatives in the US have put pressure on their Canadian counterparts to destroy their program.

White House Threatens to Blacklist Paper for Covering Protest

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. 

This article provides one demonstration of how the ruling class disciplines mainstream coverage of events when it strays into forbidden territory. Providing access to official US functions, to official press releases, and leaked reports are plums that no major media corporation can do without. Of course, major media corporations rarely stray simply because they are owned by the ruling class. How this happened would be an interesting story in itself. I think it is likely that Carla Marinucci and her editor will be disciplined for this coverage.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever

Click here to access article by Jeremy Grantham, the Chief Investment Officer of GMO Capital posted on The Oil Drum. 

Like Nate Hagens with reference to The Oil Drum, I also debated with myself about posting this fairly lengthy article on my blog. I share his reasons for posting the article as expressed in his introduction.  

The article is sourced from a quarterly report to GMO investors and written by an investment fund manager. Clearly the article is not written for a general audience, but it is important for a number of reasons. Chief among them are two: the truths that it contains about resource exhaustion and climate change, and the cracks that it may be opening up in capitalist thinking about these subjects. Unlike most of his capitalist colleagues, the author is more influenced by hard evidence than he is by the faith-based religion of capitalism.

So, with these considerations in mind, I advise you to read carefully those sections that are understandable and relevant to you, and skip the parts that are not.