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 Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Extreme weather link 'can no longer be ignored'

Click here to access article by Steve Connor, Science Editor from The Independent.
Scientists are to end their 20-year reluctance to link climate change with extreme weather – the heavy storms, floods and droughts which often fill news bulletins – as part of a radical departure from a previous equivocal position that many now see as increasingly untenable.
The unstable climate is a result of drug addicted actions of capitalist elites who in their mad pursuit of profits must turn every fossil fuel they can find into energy needed to make things that can be sold regardless of their necessity to sustain human life. Meanwhile the consumption of this form of energy is loading our planet's atmosphere and oceans with carbon and destroying the planet's ecosystem. 

Like addicts, capitalists use every psychological trick to deceive themselves and us: denial, pretending to do something about the problem (e.g.,carbon pricing schemes, running ads on TV touting the development of some new exotic energy source like algae), or simply ignoring the problem.

Watch a good parody of climate change denial presented by Bill McKibben and Stephen Thomson:

The FBI's Next Generation Identification: Bigger and Faster but Much Worse for Privacy

Click here to access article by Jennifer Lynch from Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It appears that the FBI is building a huge database on all of us by accessing many governmental department files --of course, in the name of fighting terrorism.
This week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and several other organizations released documents from a FOIA lawsuit that expose the concerted efforts of the FBI and DHS to build a massive database of personal and biometric information. This database, called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI), has been in the works for several years now. However, the documents CCR posted show for the first time how FBI has taken advantage of the DHS Secure Communities program and both DHS and the State Department’s civil biometric data collection programs to build out this $1 billion database.

Revolution is A Legitimate Option

Click here to access article by Timothy Gatto from OpEd News. 

The author argues that US citizens are justified in seeking a revolutionary change from the present form of government because it has become destructive of the "unalienable Rights [of citizens] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Debt Ceiling Charade a Move to the Right [9:28m video]

Click here to access video interview on Real News Network conducted by Paul Jay with economist Michael Hudson.

Hudson talks about what I think of as the "good cop, bad cop" strategy that the current political operatives are using via Obama to slash more public benefits. 

I see Obama and Rep. Boehner as merely the starring actors in this drama. The reason why the capitalist political party of Democrats selected Obama for their Presidential candidate was because they saw him as a gifted orator and a "minority" person that would have widespread appeal among the naive electorate, but someone they could trust to carry on their agenda. He has not disappointed them.

Of course, Hudson is no radical: he would like to see capitalism reformed. But, that is something like trying to train a wolf to become a vegetarian.

Alternatives

Click here to access article by Dennis Kelleher from Rebel Capitalist. 
This TINA religion has been bad for workers. But yet we’ve brainwashed into thinking there is no alternative or that anything else is bad. TINA has a very good propaganda machine behind it.

There are examples all over the world and in even in the U.S.of alternatives to this TINA religion. Examples where people and workers matter more than short-term profit and exploitation of the environment. Examples where the way of doing business is more conducive to democracy than TINA.

Dante's Slope

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News.

Mr. Cox tells us about his journey from the middle-class into the hell of unemployment, a descent that many of his fellow Americans are also experiencing. Unlike many others he appears to be coping well. He has a place to stay, he fights back with articles like this, and finds a few rewards by being out of the system of wage/salary slavery. Shorn of his property, his things, and his economically secure status, he appears to be a better human being because of his ordeal. Read his story.
I have been at loose ends now for two, could it be going on three years? Without a phone or an address to call my own, I have access to these things but they aren't mine. For the last six months I have been staying like Dick Cheney, in an undisclosed location. I wonder now, if I've become a gentleman of the road? I've been placing an ad in Craigslist offering to do day labor, I've built fences, stained decks, built brick retaining walls. No job application, credit check or drug testing needed. We talk, we meet, I do the job, I get paid and I go on my way. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In U.S. Monetary Policy, a Boon to Banks

Click here to access article by Jesse Eisinger from Pro Publica.
What we actually have is a capitalist banking system, backed by a socialist system, that benefits a limited number of people, that the rest of the taxpayers support.
Eisinger explains the truth of this comment that was posted by John Lucas following the article.

Banking is the biggest scam of all scams, and it has been a key industry for the most powerful capitalists since the beginning of capitalism. One of the first acts of the American capitalists such as Hamilton and financier Morris and with Washington's approval (these people are often referred to reverently as "our Founding Fathers") following the US War of Independence from Britain was to establish a central bank.  

We have all been brainwashed into thinking that the founding of our nation was to establish "democracy" here in North America. The American Revolution was sold to the public as such, but they soon learned what the War of Independence was really about--to give freedom to plunder the continent to the local capitalists in North America free from any restrictions of the British Crown.  

Once this was achieved, local capitalists and rich investors from all over Europe joined in the plunder. Working people (mostly farmers) fought back in such insurrections as Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion, but they were soon crushed through the use of force. (If your education  indoctrination was like mine, you learned very little about these events. To learn more of the reality, I suggest you read Unruly Americans by Woody Holton and The Whiskey Rebellion by William Hogeland.)

Empire of bases

Click here to access article by Nick Turse from Voltaire Net.
The United States boasts hundreds of military bases around the world, perhaps even thousands, constituting a planetary military deployment of a sort never before seen in history. Yet no one knows exactly how many. Everywhere it has a military base, the U.S. is able to swing the necessary political, economic and coercive power to impose its will. But as the U.S. economy shrinks, so will inevitably its empire of bases and its shadowy military footprint, predicts Nick Turse.
It is precisely these arsenals of violence to enforce their demands on the rest of the world that informs the arrogant policies of the US and international ruling class of capitalists. Should their organs of propaganda, methods of co-optation, loans and "foreign aid" fail to sustain their policies, they are ready to use violence to enforce their rule as they are currently demonstrating in Afghanistan/Pakistan. This dependence upon violence to have their way is also a weakness because they depend upon the sons and daughters of working people to use these weapons.

The cost of establishing and maintain these bases must be astronomical, and thus must be hidden from view--not even discussed as an issue in mainstream media. The many cutbacks in education, Social Security, welfare, and public services are needed to sustain these bases and the power of the ruling class.

The Powers of Manipulation: Islam as a Geopolitical Tool to Control the Middle East

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Empire Strikes Back. 
As Washington and its cohorts march towards the Eurasian Heartland, they have tried to manipulate Islam as a geo-political tool. They have created political and social chaos in the process. Along the way they have tried to redefine Islam and to subordinate it to the interests of global capital by ushering in a new generation of so-called Islamists, chiefly amongst the Arabs.
The author provides a good explanation of the general strategy that the political operatives of the Empire are using to control that area of the world. But, can they contain the newly aroused democratic aspirations of the people?

Reports: Obama pushing for cuts to Social Security, Medicare

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon. 

The author, once again, provides a corrective to the narratives spun by mainstream media's portrayal of the US budget crisis. 
For months, the standard narrative among progressive commentators was that Republicans were outrageously exploiting the debt ceiling deadline to impose drastic entitlement cuts on a resisting and victimized Democratic President (he's weak in negotiations!), but...the driving force behind these cuts is the President himself, who is pushing for even larger spending cuts than the GOP was ready to accept....
This is another illustration of the "good cop, bad cop" theme that mainstream media likes to use to confuse ordinary Americans.

Kleptocratic Capitalism: Challenges of the green economy for sustainable Africa

Click here to access article by Yash Tandon from Pambazuka News (Africa). 

The fundamental reality of Africa is that it is integrated into a global system of kleptocratic capitalism characterised by primitive accumulation or ‘rent seeking’ by the rich nations and within each nation by the rich power elite. This creates at the opposite polar end the dispossession and disempowerment of the masses of the people. The present phase of the evolution of capitalism is caught up in its own contradictions, but capitalism is not about to disappear. It is a long road. In facing the challenges of the demands of a ‘green economy’ that ensures ‘sustainable Africa’, Africa has to balance the human rights and needs of the masses of its people with the imperative of protecting Africa’s environment. Africa should not hand over policy matters and negotiating strategies to outside ‘experts’, however benign they might appear.

 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

PASOK: Pan Hellenic Socialist Kleptocrats

Click here to access article by James Petras from Dissident Voice.

Petras does an excellent job of exposing how representative democracy functions in Greece to serve the governing class. Of course, the situation in Greece is only an example of how representative democracy is used by governing capitalist classes to fool working people into thinking that their governments are legitimate.

His concluding paragraph is very significant: 
For the vast majority of Greeks there is no future and no solution in the existing system of street protest and parliamentary politics. The latter ignores the former. This impasse raises the question of what kinds of extra parliamentary action are necessary and possible to end the rule by de-factor imperial rulers and kleptocratic collaborators.
It seems to me, as a general strategy, that the solution lies in thinking globally in terms of working class consciousness and connecting with workers in other nations, and acting locally. Working class activism must become globalized to meet the challenge posed by globalized capitalist elites.

Looking at FBI Entrapment

Click here to access article by Rehanna Jones-Boutaleb from Foreign Policy in Focus.

Yesterday I referred to the hybrid form that the US political system has assumed: pseudo forms of democracy combined with police state methods. This article illustrates the latter. 

US teachers’ union endorses Obama for 2012 election

Click here to access article by Alexander Fangmann and Jerry White from World Socialist Web Site.
The National Education Association—whose 3.2 million members have been a major target of the Obama administration’s attack on public school teachers—became the first major union to endorse the Democratic president’s reelection bid in 2012.
This article highlights how much the ruling class has co-opted this US education union into serving the capitalism system. 

For more detailed information on how this process has succeeded, read Chapter 3 of "The Business Roundtable and Systemic Reform", a 2002 PhD dissertation by Kathy Emery, from her website.

Why I’m Hoping the NFL Season Will be Canceled

Click here to access article by William Hicks from Dissident Voice. 

I love this paragraph:
It has become painfully obvious in recent years that the purpose of the mainstream media is to serve as what the late Joe Bageant used to call the “American Hologram,” distracting the masses from noticing how they are being robbed blind by the corporate and Wall Street elite who own that very same media. From celebrity spectacles, to reality shows, to official propaganda presented as “news,” hundreds of cable and satellite television channels are dedicated to pulling the wool over the eyes of the bovine herd whose minds have become as flabby as their waistlines.
I don't quite agree with his blaming both athletes and owners for the impasse. Especially in relation to "professional" (commercial) American football, the former are workers who have invested so much of their lives into becoming top athletes and risk so much in terms of their health.

Once again, it is the system of capitalism which corrupts everything--even recreation that ordinary people used to enjoy. Sports has become too much of a commodity like most everything else: something to be paid for and consumed rather than something to participate in for fun and a healthy way to connect with one's neighbors.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Firing Line: The Grand Coalition Against Teachers

Click here to access article by Joanne Barkan from Dissent. 
This article will investigate the fix-the-teachers campaign of today’s “education reformers.” It’s not their only project. They also want public schools run with the top-down, data-driven, accountability methods used in private businesses; they aim to replace as many regular public schools as possible with publicly funded, privately managed charter schools; some are trying to expand voucher programs to allow parents to take their per-child public-education funding to private schools. ...It endangers the democratic nature of public education as well.
It is clear to me that the capitalist political operatives have launched a broad campaign against working people everywhere in the world. Here at the center of the Empire they are attacking the last vestiges of public funding and control of what is considered "the commons" and the public worker unions which have a stake in the commons. 

The political operatives are thoroughly drunk on the power they derive from the control of an impressive military apparatus, well-equipped police forces, and their stacking of the court system with neo-conservatives. This control, and their commitment to such fascist methods, well describes a contemporary version of fascism, although at this time it has taken a hybrid form consisting of pseudo-forms of democracy combined with police state methods. All aspects of fascism are in place, but they still feel that they can fool most working people into believing that the system serves their needs. Thus, they continue to use a fake form of democracy called representative democracy within which they control the process of selection of candidates and the elected representatives

As long as working people mostly cooperate in their oppression, this make-believe democracy will continue. But, should working people really begin to fight back in an organized fashion with all the immense power they possess, then you will see the gloves come off to reveal the naked fist of fascism. This prospect likely frightens some people, but there really is no decent alternative but to organize and fight back. 

What is the alternative to fighting back? Take a look at the future where fascism functions quite openly with only a thin veneer of democratic process . Look at conditions in Honduras as an illustration of what lies ahead for US workers if they continue to cooperate with the 1% of citizens who essentially own our economy and use it for their sole benefit.

Once working people become conscious of their power, the system will collapse like a house of cards. The system cannot function without the cooperation of large numbers of working people.

Thus it is clear that the fightback in the US it is mostly an ideological battle. Arrayed against us are all the ideological organs of the owning class--their increasing control of education and absolute control of mainstream media. They now want absolute control of education. In order to counter this barrage of propaganda, it is mandatory for those of us, like Joanne Barkan, who are already aware of the dire situation, to enable a new consciousness through the use of alternative media.

Fourth of July Lies

Click here to access article by June Terpstra from OpEd News. 
This fourth of July article is a call to those people of the USA who can still think critically to stop merely talking about changing the US and hence, the world, and start doing it by creating resistance movements against the beliefs and practices that foster going into countries and homes to kill the people and take their resources. Be it under the ruse of something called democracy, humanitarian intervention, the war on terror or the war on drugs, these programs and their labels delude and deceive in order to manufacture consent for war, torture and theft that profits the small group of men and women who really rule the world.
This writer clearly understands that the battle being waged against us, and many others in the world, is an ideological one. She counters many of the "Fourth of July Lies" with the truth to help us to think clearly about the issues of our time.

The only weakness I see with her article is that she fails to connect the lies to the system of capitalism, the goose which lays the golden eggs for 1% of citizens to the detriment of everyone else. To her the source of the lies and oppression is...
The national religion, an ugly mix of Calvinism and evangelical Christianity, is the ultimate expression of greed and manifestation of death wishes which destroys any human love for the poor and down-trodden. The dominant culture promotes the continuation of the ability to make money for consumption; an addiction to mind numbing media; and the desensitization of the population to violence to benefit the greed based fundamentalism of ruling power elites. 
To be sure religion has been used, and still is to a lesser extent, by the ruling class of capitalists to support their system. And, their system is the real faith-based religion of capitalism that allows a small minority to control the economy to serve their interests, not ours.

Hundreds of Thousands of Greek and British Workers Stage Strikes As Governments Push Austerity Cuts [16:38m video]

Click here to access article from Democracy Now.


Workers in Europe are beginning to understand that they must fight back, that the existing political process cannot bring relief, and that they have tremendous power at their disposal to bring down the system.

"Democracy Now!" is a valuable left-liberal media source of information and analysis in the US, but it always skirts the underlying issue of capitalism. I don't know whether they do this to survive in a hostile US media environment or whether they actually believe that capitalism can be reformed to serve the interests of ordinary working people.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Propaganda Narrative of U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq

Click here to access article by Jeremy R. Hammond from Foreign Policy Journal.

This is an excellent analysis of a current propaganda piece published by the most prominent "newspaper of record" in the US. Anyone who has any interest in how the ruling class shapes public opinion must read this article. 
...the New York Times would have Americans believe that “Iraqis Hope U.S. Special Operations Commandos Stay”. Naturally, the U.S. mainstream media also stays true to the narrative that the U.S. is in the country to help Iraqis build “democracy”, the rejection of the views and positions of the overwhelming majority of Iraqis notwithstanding.
In order to maintain the fiction of an independent press, the control of mainstream media in the US is always handled informally and hidden from public view. Thus, control of the media is not done formally as when the Soviet authorities directed its propaganda organs such as Pravda to publish articles in a certain way, but control exists nonetheless.   

A World Overwhelmed by Western Hypocrisy

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from Information Clearing House.
The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are violating their charters in order to bail out French, German, and Dutch private banks. The IMF is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons in order that the Greek government can pay the banks. The ECB is prohibited from bailing out member country governments, but is doing so anyway in order that the banks can be paid.  The German parliament approved the bailout, which violates provisions of the European Treaty and Germany’s own Basic Law. The case is in the German Constitutional Court, a fact unreported in the US media.  
This opening paragraph is only one of many hypocrisies that he cites, however it brings to my mind some important insights regarding the way the capitalist class rules to serve their interests while only pretending to follow the rule of their own laws. I will comment only with regard to key financial institutions, but the same principles (securing the private interests of the owning class) apply to the other hypocrisies he writes about.

First, although they always claim to follow a system of laws, not people, this is always a cover to hide their use and misuse of laws to serve their class interests. When it is in their class interests to flout their own laws, they do so through a variety of methods: they put pressure on their appointed legal authorities to provide favorable interpretations of the laws or completely redefine what the laws mean (for example, corporations became "persons" via the US Supreme court in 1886). And, at other times, they simple ignore their laws and do what they want. 

Laws designed by the owning class have always been designed, interpreted, and enforced to serve their class interests regarding the ownership of private property, and the key feature of which is the right of ownership and control over the wealth produced by working people.

Second, notice that once again (similar to the Federal Reserve) we see institutions that have a veneer of governmental participation in order to create the appearance of legitimacy, but in reality serve the private interests of the owning class. (See this, this, this, and this.) Here we see these quasi-governmental institutions serving private banks which are owned and controlled by the capitalist class who represent less than 1% of the European population. 

We are living in a debt ridden world, and who "owns" all this debt (i.e., the creditors)?  The tiny minority of people who benefit from their system and who rule much of the world.

Getting used to Life without Food

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Global Research.

The author argues that under neo-liberal policies, the food supply is being used to serve the profit interests of the owning class while causing severe famines in many areas of the world.

Also, it appears obvious to me that increasing unstable weather patterns are causing havoc for farmers in producing their crops and thus contributes to the rise in prices. Engdahl argues in the last section of the article that weather changes are due to unusual solar flare activity and cites a few sources to support this. From my reading of many scientific studies, I have seen little that supports this argument. To the contrary, there is abundant research findings to support the thesis that global warming is creating extreme weather patterns. (See this, this, and this.) Most evidence suggests that solar flare activity seems to affect little more than electronic signals. (See "Hazards" subheading in Wikipedia's solar flare entry.)

Turn out the lights

Click here to access article by Peter Radford from Real-World Economics Review. 
...as a result of the opening up of our economy in the name of free market magic, and the economic collapse it brought about, we now have an enormous burden of underemployed people. These are our fellow citizens. They are without help and without hope. And our leaders try to ignore them.

Instead they engage in a furious re-writing of history to avoid responsibility for the play being staged.

Not content with dismantling our sense of community, they want to prevent any chance it will be recaptured. They want to expunge from history any remains of the response to the Great Depression. Indeed, they seem intent on reigniting depression in order to scorch the earth clean of vestiges of social action.
Under this globalization phase of capitalism the owning class is transforming much of the US working class into a permanent unskilled underclass. The great technological prowess and much vaunted American know-how of previous generations of workers that produced so much economic success is now being used by the owning class against American workers which will, if this continues, produce one generation after another of low paid service workers. 

With the ability to draw on skilled workers throughout the world, they no longer need most American workers to produce their wealth and the power that wealth brings with it. Thus, we see today that the owning class has no interest in a serious "New Deal" as we saw following the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The only civilized solution to save ordinary working people throughout the world is for them to use all the resources at their disposal--imagination, courage, cooperation, organization, etc--and to enlist these qualities to serve the workers of the world in order to throw off the shackles of the present class driven system of capitalism.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Egypt: The Struggle Continues

Click here to access article by Joel Beinin from Jadaliyya.
Egypt’s revolution is very much a work in progress and the struggle among its political and social forces remains undecided.
Indeed, we have only witnessed the initial stage of this revolutionary process. The Egyptian people will not easily return to their former dependent status and be exploited further by the US sponsored military ruling class in Egypt. 

This is a major contest that the Empire's political operatives feel could be a decisive battle to preserve the Empire, and they are doing everything they can to win. See this article entitled, "Top US senators join business trip to Tunisia, Egypt" in which the "top senators", who brought bags of US taxpayer money to bribe the Egyptian ruling class, were accompanied by CEOs of key US corporations such as Bechtel, GE, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Bechtel, Exxon Mobil, Marriot and Dow. 

The Last Great Global Warming

Click here to access introduction to the article by Lee R. Kump from Scientific American.

Unfortunately the full article can be accessed by subscription only. Of course the working people who made this article possible should be paid for their work. But if most of the rewards go to some group of investors, then this is a social crime. Under a socially just system, everyone could access this vitally needed article with a minimal amount of expense, and with little inconvenience. 

However, their introduction and the following summary hits the crucial points, and the implications pose a herculean challenge for those of us living today. We simply must meet this challenge to insure a decent survival for those generations that follow us. To do this, we must change the social-economic system of capitalism that otherwise will lead us to extinction. It is no longer only a matter of social justice, it is now a matter of survival for our children and their children, and so on into the future.
  • Global temperature rose five degrees Celsius 56 million years ago in response to a massive injection of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
  • That intense gas release was only 10 percent of the rate at which heat-trapping greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere today. 
  • The speed of today's rise is more troubling than the absolute magnitude, because adjusting to rapid climate change is very difficult.  
There are times when I fear that the human race has a fatal flaw that will prevent them from meeting this challenge--it is the worship of power and the powerful. Somehow ordinary people have tended historically to believe that the powerful possess power because they are superior human beings. Of course, the powerful have always played into this tendency by proliferating beliefs such as "divine rights" and other ideological supports from religious authorities, with legal systems where they make the laws and appoint the judges, and by indoctrinating its citizens in the belief that the leaders possess knowledge about the complexities of today's world that ordinary people cannot understand

Because most ordinary people are honest, they tend to believe that most other people are like them. They tend not to believe the reality that there are sociopaths among them who have attained power through deceit, criminal acts, and violence.

The present capitalist aristocracies have also made every effort to obscure real knowledge of important issues through their control of every important institution in our societies, the most important of which are education and the media.

Rogues or respectable? How climate change sceptics spread doubt and denial

Click here to access article by Ian Enting from The Conversation (Australia).

For US readers to follow up on this subject, I especially recommend that you read the book by Oreskes and Conway entitled, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. The book provides all the disgusting details of how a few scientists were bought off and used by capitalists to discredit scientific findings that interfered with their access to profits, a drug that has the latter so addicted that nothing else matters to them.