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, June 11, 2011

Three Powerfully Wrong--and Wrongly Powerful--American Narratives about the Arab Spring

Click here to access article by Jillian Schwedler, Joshua Stacher, and Stacey Philbrick Yadav from Jadaliyya.
And as Obama made clear in his speech on the future of the region, the Administration will fully support political reforms, but only as long as the dominant neoliberal economic system remains intact. In this regard, the Administration finds no shortage of domestic comprador elites eager to decouple economic and political reforms before too many take notice. These local elites—who stand to profit mightily—are ready allies for the United States in “de-economizing” the so-called transitions and trying to promote a blind deference to electoral processes and political reforms while concealing the likely failure of these processes to resolve the socio-economic imbalances that led to the uprisings in the first place.
This excellent piece offers a critical review of popular themes held by a large segment of the US population regarding current events in the MENA countries, and the authors offer a much more accurate portrayal of the real issues driving events in the region.

Behind the attack on Libya are strategies of economic warfare

Click here to access article by Manlio Dinucci from VoltaireNet. 

This author appears to have a good grasp on the economic strategies of the Empire that is shaping its operations in Libya.
It is apparent, then, the reason why — with an operation decided not in Bengazi, but in Washington, London and Paris — the National Transitional Council has created the "Libyan Oil Company.” This is an empty shell, much like one of those companies that are ready key in hand for investors in tax havens. It is intended to replace Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) when the "willing" have taken control of oil fields. Its task will be to grant licenses on terms highly favorable to U.S., British and French companies.

Companies Spend on Equipment, Not Workers

Click here to access article by Catherine Rampell from NY Times. 

This piece illustrates how the products that working people create are used against them under the system of capitalism. However, this practice is also ultimately devastating for society. (As you can see, contradictions abound under capitalism.) But then who among capitalists care about society? After all,  "there's no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families." Of course, as sociopaths they are concerned only about their individuals and families.

Under this system labor is seen only as a cost which takes away profits. Hence, the perpetual drive to drive down costs by using machines, crushing or co-opting unions, and finding cheaper labor elsewhere. With more workers unemployed, who can afford to buy their products?  You don't need a university education to see where this leads.

An economy under this system is not really designed to meet human needs, but to create wealth for a few. And it has succeeded brilliantly! But for the 99% + of the world's population, it is a disaster.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The cold hard cash counter-revolution

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online. 

Once again this astute journalist sees what most media conceals that is moving events in the Arab countries. Here he provides little known desperate actions of the US and its Saudi satrap to contain and roll back the Arab people's yearning for some version of democracy. Obviously this presents a challenge for news gatekeepers and propagandists in the US to maintain their fictions about US support of democracy in the Middle East.
And just like a thief in the dead of night, who sneaked into Washington to be received at the White House by US President Barack Obama this past Tuesday? No one else than Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman al-Khalifa.

There was no press conference. There were no pictures. It's like this conversation would self-destruct in five seconds - but it did take place, between a drone-heavy Nobel Peace Prize and the head of the military of a Persian Gulf American satrapy which is busy toppling its own people. No amount of rhetoric will alter the math: Washington fully backs outright repression all across the Persian Gulf - to the extreme delight of the House of Saud.

NY Times Bombshell: “The latest scientific research suggests” climate change is “helping to destabilize the food system”

Click here to access article by Joe Romm from Climate Progress. 

Romm comments on the NY Times article about how climate change is impacting the food supply. 
Okay, the fact that climate change is helping to destabilize the food system and cause major price spikes is not a ‘bombshell’ to Climate Progress readers.  We’ve been writing about this for a long time....
Eventually the news gatekeepers of the New World Order have to recognize reality. But to prevent people from becoming alarmed about the situation, the NY Times article ends on a positive note.
“We’ve doubled the world’s food production several times before in history, and now we have to do it one more time,” said Jonathan A. Foley, a researcher at the University of Minnesota. “The last doubling is the hardest. It is possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”
When the more respectable news gatekeepers don't succeed in shutting the mouths of those raising alarms about climate change evidence, the right-wing media circus directs its audience toward bolder actions such as death threats. Read "Climate scientists the target in culture war" for more information on this disturbing trend.

No to the ‘Euro Pact’, a new attack against democracy: we are not products in the hands of politicians and bankers

Click here to access article from Committee for the Cancellation of the Third World Debt.
Once more our governments sign in the name of their citizens in favour of the large financial corporation as though the only way out of the crisis was the reduction of the cost of work and the curtailing of public services, while they leave tax havens, tax evasion and the economic choices of this system completely unchanged.
Although this is about Europe, it applies nearly world-wide. This is a simple recognition that we are losing the class war. Hence, the call to action. However, what kind of action and for what goals should we be active? Simple reform of the existing capitalist system? Or system change? It seems to me that 300 years of extreme wealth and poverty, horrendous wars, and now the threat of climate change are more than enough reasons to change the system.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Afghanistan: Why Civilians are Killed? A People’s War: Not a "War on Terror"

Click here to access article by Prof. James Petras from Global Research. 
‘Accidents of war’ do not ‘just happen’ for an entire decade, covering an entire country. The killing of civilians is a result of a war of imperial conquest against an entire people who resist the occupation in whatever form is appropriate to their circumstance.
And the US ruling class has been on a rampage since WWII. See Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II  by William Blum.

Early Childhood Military Education?

Click here to access article by Ann Pelo from Rethinking Schools. 

In an advanced capitalist society like the US one finds that the system corrupts everything it touches. By "corrupt" I mean that everything is organized to serve the interests of those people who make up the capitalist class--the major "owners" of the economy. 

All productive assets of any economy represent a sum total of all the wealth and skills created by people from the beginning of the human race about 150 thousand years ago. The system of capitalism was created largely by force about 300 years ago. The people who did this were called capitalists. Many were originally merchants, traders, and money lenders, and some were from the old aristocracy who had created their exploitative system largely by force. This new class took over nearly all the resources that were held in the remaining commons--lands and resources that everyone had access to. Today they are mostly taking away the lands of small farmers of 3rd World and Emerging countries.

Now, having had so much success in consolidating the productive resources of the world into this tiny class that comprises about 1% of the population, they are increasingly confronting opposition which they must put down. That is a major reason why the military establishment is so huge in the US. (The other reason is that it is a big source of profits for investors in weaponry.) 

Ruling classes always like to use poor, desperate people to serve in their armies in order to crush all opposition to their rule. They also want them to be ignorant about social arrangements and working class history, and most importantly, to be obedient. Today they also need people who have been trained in technical skills, but not much else. Hence "educational" policies and programs are being shaped to provide more of the latter skills, but otherwise offer only courses that are essentially indoctrination. Thus, education is being replaced by skill and obedience training and indoctrination. "Military education" is an oxymoron.

Top 10 Worst Corporate Income Tax Avoiders

4:38m video of speech in US Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders from U-Tube.

Of course, these corporations and especially their owners, the major investors, are simply playing out the natural rules of the capitalist system--more profits and power for individuals, brought together under corporate "persons" with Constitutional rights, who are allowed to "own" and control the wealth produced by working people. We are now witnessing a new global aristocracy of capitalists who rule the world. We working people have been reduced to debt slaves or serfs. We alone will pay taxes to support the government and its war's expenses. It's the New World Order! 

What? You don't like the results of this arrangement, of this faith-based religion of capitalism? Okay, then emancipate yourselves by first turning off the boob tube (TV), tuning out the mind-numbing mainstream media that is controlling the information that you receive about the world you live in. 

The next step is to believe in yourselves. Individuals possess all kinds of talents and strengths which are widely distributed in the population: courage, patience, communication skills, intelligence, perseverance, specialized work skills, creativity, endurance, physical strength, imagination, reliability, integrity, wisdom, etc. (The list is nearly endless.) The trick is...to combine these strengths with those of others. Alone we are weak, together we are powerful. That is precisely why any ruling class must keep their subjects divided and isolated from each other--and capitalists are extremely successful at doing this.

Then tune in to alternative media that makes sense, talk to your neighbors, read books that brings clarity to your reality, become active by protesting and organizing with your neighbors and community. Once you starting trusting independent sources and your own concrete experience and those of your neighbors, one thing leads to another until we all become too powerful for this ruling class. We will break the chains that bind us, that keep us apart, and we will no longer be slaves. Then we become emancipated and free to create societies that serve OUR needs, societies that can thrive in harmony with nature.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Great Land Grab: India's war on farmers

Click here to access article by Vandana Shiva from Al Jazeera. 

Financial capital is hungry for investments and returns on investments. It must commodify everything on the planet - land and water, plants and genes, microbes and mammals. The commodification of land is fueling the corporate land grab in India, both through the creation of Special Economic Zones and through foreign direct investment in real estate.


The Bernanke Scandal: Full-Frontal Cluelessness

Click here to access article by Robert Scheer from TruthDig.

What this liberal critic doesn't seem to understand is that the financial sector of our society comprises most of the ruling class. These people have always been a major part of the US ruling class starting with financier Robert Morris who, with Alexander Hamilton, after the US Revolution immediately created a central bank under private ownership. The main difference now is that they are overwhelmingly represented among the ruling class. So, why shouldn't one expect that their policies would almost exclusively serve banking interests? Thus, the liberal Scheer acts like he is offering some profound insight with this statement:
The record is by now indelibly clear that the economic approaches pursued by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with Bernanke playing a key role in both administrations, can be most accurately summarized as a policy of government of the bankers, by the bankers, and for the bankers.
The inability of American liberals to advance a more insightful class analysis of political events has greatly retarded the raising of the political consciousness of the American people, and thus they have contributed to the increasing concentration of financial and corporate rule.

Undefeated, Freedom Flotillas Expand

Click here to access article by Eva Bartlett from Transcend Media Service.

People from all over the world are defying the Israeli oppression of Palestinians in Gaza demonstrating once again that "the people united will never be defeated."
Undaunted by last year’s massacre, international activists have organised the Freedom Flotilla 2, due to sail in one month’s time with at least 10 boats and over 1,000 activists. Canadian and U.S. boats will join those of Europe, Turkey, and other nations.

Opportunities and Challenges Facing the Egyptian Revolution

Click here to access article featuring an interview with Wael Khalil who is an Egyptian activist and a blogger.

Khalil is very optimistic about the prospects for the Egyptian revolution to continue. In this interview he explains why.
We always used to read in books about the permanent revolution but we see it happening in Egypt today. At every stage even before the fall of Mubarak there were those who would say let us stop here, and those who would say let the revolution continue. This will go on between the liberal forces who only talk about political freedoms and elections’ cards. They thank the people and ask them to go home with their LE 300 [cheap hotel apartments], to their wrecked dwellings and broken education. But there are those who say no. The revolution will not stop until it really realizes all of its goals, that is, the restructuring of society for the benefit of the wide majority of the people.

Book review: For All the People by John Curl

Click here to access article by John Curl from Cooperantics. 

The author of the review writes that the book "... is a magnificent, comprehensive and detailed history of co-operatives and collectives of all kinds in the USA."
For all the People is an important and timely book – read it to see where co-operatives have succeeded, how they have supported and inspired working people to action and where and how they have failed. We can learn much from this history and we need to look back and learn in order to look forward and act.

A European Generation Takes to the Streets

Click here to access article by Mathieu von Rohr and Helene Zuber from Spiegel Online. 
Apolitical young people who long believed that conformity was the best strategy for getting by, have become political overnight. This is perhaps the most astonishing conclusion to be reached by observing this movement. And it also applies to France and Portugal, where the protesters are demanding direct citizen participation and are collecting signatures to support bills aimed at improving the situation of young people. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

9 Signs That We May Be Living Through Another Depression

Click here to access article by Joshua Holland from AlterNet. 

I am posting this article not because I think it is particularly useful, but to illustrate a liberal orientation on the current economic crisis for working people in the US. The overall perspective is that, although unfortunate and prolonged by misguided policies, the current economic collapse is just another temporary setback for people. 

Reporting on recent poll results, the author writes: "Two-thirds of those polled by Newsweek and the Daily Beast even said they were 'angry at God.'” This reaction, which suggests that the economic collapse was an "act of God", reveals the low level of political consciousness of many in the US. Their anger should be directed more intelligently. The fact that it isn't, is likely due in large part to this kind of liberal analysis fed to them daily via liberal mainstream sources.

The author continues on with his shallow report with this statement:
Yet the reality that's breaking down Americans' sunny optimism is obscured by reports that the economy is in recovery, and has been since June 2009.
Because, like a true liberal, he totally ignores the class structure of society, he can only wring his hands in pity for the unfortunate (workers) who are not (yet) benefiting (as are capitalists) from the "recovery" . His final paragraph provides a good summary of his views on the economic disaster: it's temporary, but lasting longer than it should due to misguided government policies.
When historians look back on this era, they'll marvel at the degree of delusion that led lawmakers and the media to focus relentless energy on the deficit while turning a blind eye to the economic pain being felt by a majority of our citizens. Economists will write PhD theses detailing how this long, somewhat shallow Depression was nurtured by insane contractionary policies Congress enacted in the middle of a pummeling downturn.
Totally missing from his assessment is any recognition that we are approaching the Götterdämmerung of capitalism, and possibly the human race. The system's growth imperative and the concentration of wealth and power to provide profits for a few has resulted not only in the current economic destitution for many working people, but also in depleted resources and a polluted environment that is threatening to destabilize a climate that can support human life.

With Educational Opportunity Under Attack, Protesters Disrupt Proceedings with Civil Disobedience

Click here to access article from PR Watch.

Working people are fighting back against privatization and public service cutbacks all over the world: in Haiti, in India, in Greece, in Egypt, Spain, Iceland, Portugal, in the US State of Wisconsin, etc. Are people organizing and fighting back where you are? Or are they going like sheep into the slaughterhouse?

As the Joint Finance Committee moves closer to final action on Governor Scott Walker's controversial budget, which takes $1 billion out of public education, while radically expanding school vouchers, more protests are expected in the Wisconsin Capitol.
"You're basically cutting off municipalities' arms and legs, instead of their heads," said Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee), who advised Republican lawmakers not to pat themselves on the backs for what were touted as improvements to the original proposal. According to WisPolitics, "The motion increases aid to county and municipalities by $19.3 million in 2012-13, leaving the program with a net reduction of $76.8 million.
The committee moved on to the school choice omnibus....
Grigsby said the motion was "not about the poor little black kids in Milwaukee; it's about privatizing public education. It's about making money off the backs of poor children."

"We need to raise all boats, not sink boats to raise a few yachts," Jauch said of the motion, which favors resources for private schools by stripping Milwaukee public schools of $182 million.
The final motion tackled the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. It eliminated the ability of police and fire employees to collectively bargain on the design and choice of a health insurance plan.
And at a bank in Milwaukee the protestors are shouting, "we got sold out, they got bailed out!"


War on the internet

A series of four articles by Bernard Keane from Crikey (Australia):

Over the past six months I have received invitations to join social media networks. Thus far I have resisted joining because I have some reservations about government spying and having my personal information delivered to commercial interests. This series may be of use to those who have similar qualms and who also see advantages of using the internet for regime and system change for "we, the people".

            Part 1: the key fronts

               Part 2: those who Get It, and those who don’t

               Part 3: lessons from the 17th, 19th centuries

               Part 4: you are the network’s resilience

Washington’s ‘Bikeshare’ is a Capital Idea

Click here to access article by Sarah Goodyear from Solidarity Economy.
...just one day using the CaBi made me see the place in a whole new way. I was aware of the connections between neighborhoods as  I never have been before -- able to move faster than on foot, and without the hassle and time of descending to the Metro.

I spoke with Veronica Davis, a planner and engineer who lives in the Hillcrest neighborhood east of the Anacostia River, about her CaBi experience. "It changes how I look at community," she said. "When I am on the bike, people speak to me and wave at me. When I'm in a car, they can't see me."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Arundhati Roy: 'They are trying to keep me destabilised. Anybody who says anything is in danger'

Click here to access article by Stephen Moss from the Guardian. 

As the author bumps into Roy on the way to a loo, he quickly arranges a meeting with her. Although he seems more interested in her recent non-fiction book entitled, Broken Republic, and plans for future novels, she fills him in on the mostly unreported, active insurgency going on in central India. 
Roy talks about the resistance as an "insurrection"; she makes India sound as if it's ripe for a Chinese or Russian-style revolution. So how come we in the west don't hear about these mini-wars? "I have been told quite openly by several correspondents of international newspapers," she says, "that they have instructions – 'No negative news from India' – because it's an investment destination.

A Pulled Scoop Shows U.S. Fought to Keep Haitian Wages Down

Click here to access article by Ryan Chittum from Columbia Journalism Review.

This article illustrates why WikiLeaks is such a problem for the US ruling class. The leaks reveal to US citizens the dirty details of the ongoing class war against all working people everywhere. The targeted group in this example are Haitian workers.
Two years ago, Haiti unanimously passed a law sharply raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. That doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t), but it was two and a half times the then-minimum of 24 cents an hour.

This infuriated American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved.

Investiture of French-backed president in Ivory Coast

Click here to access article by Kumaran Ira from World Socialist Web Site. 
On May 21 French President Nicolas Sarkozy attended the investiture ceremony of Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in the capital, Yamoussoukro. He was offered a warm welcome with full military honours by Ouattara, a long-standing ally of the French ruling elite. Other participants in the ceremony included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and representatives of US President Barack Obama.

Sarkozy was accompanied by French billionaire financiers Martin Bouygues and Vincent Bolloré, as well as other corporate leaders: Michel Roussin of Veolia and Alexandre Vilgrain, the chairman of CIAN—the French Council of Investors in Africa.
As in Haiti, so in Ivory Coast, the neo-colonialists of US and France continue their exploitation of workers in 3rd World Countries.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Climate: past and future in 11 easy illustrations

Click here to access a graphical interpretation by David Spratt, Melbourne Climate Action Centre,
of aspects of recent paleoclimate research by Hansen et al.

From examining these eleven pages of graphs, it is clear that the human race has existed only within a quite narrow range of global temperatures during the past 60 million years. We, under the oppressive reign of this mere 300 year old system of capitalism, are now testing and threatening this delicate balance. We simply must not accept "the new normal" that capitalists, who consist of only 1% of us, insist we, the 99%, must accept so that they can continue to satisfy their addiction to profits and power. 

The time is now for us who care about a future for our children, our grandchildren, their children, and so on, to wrest this addictive system away from these drug addicts so that those who follow after us can have a future. We, the present living human beings, have a last chance to decide the fate of the human race. What is your choice?

I've Got Mine ... Freedom Feels So Good It Hurts

Click here to access article by Don Monkerud from CounterPunch. (Satire)

After all, corporations are people too! And without them, we would have hardly any jobs!

The Revolution Will be Self-Organized, Tahrir, #May27 (part 1)

Click here to access article by Zeynep Tufekci from her blog, Technosociology. 

The author has recently been in Egypt trying to gain some insights on the current political situation there. I am posting this because I think it important that we keep informed regarding events in this strategic country and I have great trust in her judgement and perceptions.
I cannot give an account of the complex political discussions taking place among activists and among the Egyptian. Instead, I am going to try to communicate the “spirit of Tahrir” as I witnessed it: festive, self-organized cautious, sharply political and ambitious.

Essential Readings: Iran

Click here to access article by Raha Iranian Feminist Collective from Jadaliyya. 

Because my time was cut short this morning, I haven't had much time to review this list of resource material--and there is a lot. However, I have great trust in the website, and the need to understand the issues and politics of Iran are extremely important for us Americans who are constantly being inundated with the Empire's imperialist propaganda.
In recent years, there has been a deluge of popular English-language writings by Iranians in exile, as well as hand-wringing public policy books by U.S.-based think tank pundits, all insisting on the same basic message: Iran represents a geo-political problem of unparalleled importance. While the stated goal of these books and organizations is to educate the English-reading global public about Iran, very often the message comes laced with support for militarily enforced regime change and full-scale neo-liberalization.