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, July 23, 2011

Koch, Exxon Mobil Among Corporations Helping Write State Laws

Click here to access article by Alison Fitzgerald from Bloomberg News.

This article from a mainstream Wall Street source provides a very revealing report on how major corporations have been guiding state legislatures to enact laws favorable to their interests. Because I have been an avid follower of right-wing so-called think tanks and policy advocate organizations, I was astonished to discover this organization, American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC,--and, it has been in operation for 38 years!  

I have been well aware of the numerous right wing political non-profits that influence legislation at the federal level in Washington, DC. But this group functions as a stealth capitalist controller of legislation at the state level. It's obvious why Bloomberg, whose readers are mostly Wall Street connected, finally reported on this organization now: the LA Times recently reported that Common Cause has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the tax status of this nonprofit organization. 

(After a few minutes of googling ALEC, it appears to me that information about this stealth conservative organization has been mostly reported only in a relatively few obscure left-wing publications in the last few years.)

Using these hidden think tanks and advocacy non-profits together with their direct and indirect financing of political candidates, the capitalist class effectively controls what laws are passed by our government institutions, and how laws are enforced. These activities along with many forms of indoctrination help to maintain the facade of democratic process in government

It is very important to understand the background and fundamental purpose of these conservative organizations that function behind the scenes of government. The capitalist classes that emerged triumphant after the American and French Revolutions (more gradually elsewhere) were saddled with a lot of democratic rhetoric that they had used to gain the support of peasants and working people of that age in order to topple the rule of the aristocracy. Once they gained power, their next task was to limit as much as possible any real democratic functioning of government. Thus, this new class has had to resort to all kinds of subterfuge and stealth operations to subvert any real democratic organization of society and to pursue their interests of wealth accumulation and power. 

The earliest acts of this ruling class in the US serves to illustrate how little support they had for democratic principles and where their real interests lay: the passing of the patently unconstitutional Sedition Act of 1798 and the establishment of the Bank of North America, a private bank to issue loans to our government and to create legal money for US citizens to conduct their business.

The entire history of these practices is difficult to uncover for obvious reasons. Ruling classes always write their own histories and record events to cast a favorable light on their past. Some historians like Howard Zinn have tried to report some of the methods of this class to subvert any real democracy, but I believe that he only scratched the surface. But, there are many other books, not always easy to find, that shed some light on this subject. I recommend reading Wealth By Stealth by Harry Glasbeek, The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley, Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss, The Secret Team by L. Fletcher Prouty, and other books I've listed on this blog.

A Report from Greece

Click here to access article by Yves Smith from her blog, Naked Capitalism. 

She passes on to us some brief observations she received from an American TV/movie industry professional while visiting in Greece. He suggests that the rape of Greece by European capitalists may be what is in store for the US. 

Harmonic Divergence: The Wealthy Are Dropping the Dalai Lama’s Name, Literally

Click here to access article by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair.

This accomplished filmmaker, and well-known member of the one percent who rule over us, gives us some inside information on his fellow club members who are distancing themselves from the Dalai Lama.

On this subject the brilliant filmmaker seems a bit naive. He doesn't seem to realize that his class has long been using the Dalai Lama and companions as a political weapon against China. Now that they are making so much money off Chinese investments and US corporations operating in China, the Dalai Lama has become somewhat of an embarrassment to them. It seems that they value the accumulation of wealth over everything else. So, what else is new? And, with friends like the one percent, I have my doubts about how "enlightened" the Dalai Lama and associated Buddhists are.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Green is the new red: An interview with Will Potter

Click here to access article by Robert Jensen from Energy Bulletin.
As the ecological crisis accelerates, the accompanying crackdown by corporations and people in power will intensify as well. The people who have the most to lose will cling desperately to that culture as it is threatened, and this includes not just CEOs but much of the overwhelmingly privileged United States and so-called First World.

Worker Co-operatives, Markets and the South African State: An analysis from an Anarchist Perspective

Click here to access article by Oliver Nathan from Infoshop News.

The article takes a critical look at the promises, potential, and pitfalls of worker cooperatives within capitalist societies.

Obama's Budget Betrayal - Questions and Answers

Click here to access article by Michael Collins from his blog, The Money Party.

The author does a very good job of revealing what the current theatrical production in Washington is all about:
The drama by no-drama Obama and the shrill voices on the right in are in complete alignment with the very big money interests.  Those interests can force cuts in Social Security and Medicare (already begun with cuts to the employee payroll rax).  They can protect the Bush administration's tax breaks, a major factor in the deficit.  They can sneak in all sorts of legislative and regulatory changes while the focus is on this false drama.  This is a time honored technique.
Some people prefer to use other terms for the ruling capitalist class. This author uses "the money party" to describe them. Others use terms such as "the powers that be", "the ruling elite", "the owning class", etc. But, they are all talking about essentially the same phenomenon: the class of people whose membership is made up of people who, under the rules of capitalism, have been allowed to "own" most of the economy that has been created by many generations of working people. This class of people create nothing. They only play the capitalist game with their money to make more money.

A World to Win Summer School Wales 2011 – People’s assemblies and reconstructing the state

Click here to access article by Paul Feldman from A World to Win

This appears to be a British born and based website and political organization that is attempting to bring together all the current popular resistance movements across the world. Such an organization could act as a forum for the development of new societies based on real democracy, social justice, and living in harmony with the Earth's ecology. There are lots of interesting articles here--I have chosen this one as an illustration. After reading this article, you may want to explore the website and read other articles they have.

By presenting this article, I am neither endorsing or opposing them. I really don't know much about them. Remember, we must always be alert for well-funded and directed, phony grassroots organizations who say the right things but are designed to subvert any real forms of democracy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Billion-Barrel-Per-Day Question

Click here to access article by Alexander Wöstmann from Alexander's Gas and Oil Connections.

It's surprising to run across a website like this which appears to be serving those connected with the oil and gas industry. Take this article for example. It starts off by looking into the increasing price of oil over the past few years when oil supply has been fairly abundant, and concludes that speculation and manipulation are driving the price up in spite of Wall Street explanations to the contrary. Well, that is not an earthshaking observation. What grabbed my attention was what followed this conclusion. He writes:
It would be easy to leave it at that and just conclude that we (the ‘normal’ people) are being lied to and our money is being stolen by overcharging in combination with scare stories about how either supply is being disrupted, or how some countries are consuming so much.

But it is too easy to just look at the surface and then conclude that everything is rotten or manipulated and just continue our day.
He then launches into a broad-scale attack on what I regard as the current state of capitalist controlled societies, but he never mentions the system. This is quite common among critics of the current social-economic arrangements, and one can never be sure if they are intentionally engaging in self-censorship for fear of reprisals from agents of the capitalist class or that they have been thoroughly  brainwashed into thinking that there is no alternative (TINA). He only goes as far as mentioning "the system" or the "economic system". In any case, he makes some very cogent observations about the present dismal state of capitalist societies.

Read his article to see how he weaves his observations into the final fabric of this conclusion:
In the end it will be the rising consciousness of the people that realize they do not want to be sheeple (sheep people) anymore and will start to build up the ways that are natural to the human, the planet and the times.
...As the old and massive structure will ever more break up, and the planet is going through a period of rapid change, there will be those that will seek to live in a more natural and respectful way, and there will be those that will practice agriculture in a humane and natural way, and there will be those that will promote education that enhances the unique individual features and qualities in the person, preparing the younger lives to live, not just to be productive....

President Obama’s big deal: Cuts for Social Security but no taxes for Wall Street

Click here to access article by Dean Baker from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

Let me be clear--I am only posting this to illustrate how limited and superficial a liberal critique of current government policies are. This sort of attack on current and recent policies are what passes for "left" criticism in the US political spectrum which has steadily drifted to the right over the past 40 years. As such, it serves several purposes in keeping the system as it is.

First, although it does attack the real problems of injustice in the US, the author explains its failings as incompetence by the managers of the economic system, and suggests only some reforms to solve the problems. Second, it carefully avoids any mention of the underlying system of capitalism which shapes the unjust policies mentioned by the author. Third, attacks like this serve the system by posing as critical views and thereby serve to demonstrate that there is diversity of political opinions, and that this is an indication of real democracy. In other words, the ruling class requires critical pieces like this to sustain its fake version of democracy. However, to the author's credit in contrast to most liberal critics, he does argue that there is little difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on these issues.

To me, it is so obviously wrong to argue that the current economic collapse was brought about because of incompetence. ("These people’s lives are being ruined due to the mismanagement of the economy.") So many people were in on the mortgage scam and profited hugely by it: from real estate sales people, to financial institutions that packaged and peddled the mortgage snake oil all over the world, to rating agencies that gave their stamps of approval on the packages, and to hedge funds who gambled on them. There was widespread knowledge of the scam and yet it continued simply because it was so lucrative for all the players involved. I think it likely that a lot of this financial trash was sold via Goldman Sachs to compliant European government officials, who likely also benefited from scam, in order to undermine the Euro which had been competing very well against the US dollar.

His comments about the attacks on Social Security are superficial. The fact is that the political operatives of the ruling class have been using the huge Social Security pot of money to fund their many wars without raising taxes. Instead of this money being kept in a separate trust fund and invested, it was made available to the Empire's war criminals. They blew it and now they don't want to raise taxes to pay it back to the current baby-boom retirees. See this, this, this, and this.

But, it is the system itself whose dynamic of private ownership of socially produced wealth that makes this sort of corruption inevitable, and it is not surprising that the self-serving class of private owners insist that working people pay for their criminal practices.

The Invisible Army

Click here to access article by Sarah Stillman from The New Yorker.
More than seventy thousand “third-country nationals” work for the American military in war zones; many report being held in conditions resembling indentured servitude by subcontractors who operate outside the law.
This treatment of foreign workers by the Empire's operatives illustrates how they intend to place all working people everywhere in the world in indentured and debt servitude to secure their profits and power. And they will succeed if all of us sit dazed in front of the boob-tube and passively swallow all their propaganda and be diverted by their packaged entertainment.

Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.

This blogger provides a lot of information regarding the Pentagon's efforts to use social media to further their control of the Empire.
...SMISC [Social Media in Strategic Communication] won’t be content to just to hang back and monitor social media trends in strategic locations. It’s about building a better spin machine for Uncle Sam, too. Once SMISC’s latches on to an influence operation being launched, it’s supposed to help out in “countermessaging.”

The Weather Becomes the News: An Interview With Earth Policy Institute Founder Lester Brown

Click here to access article by Christal Smith from Huffinton Post.
...I wanted to point out that there's a really BIG disaster coming down the road [which will] actually threaten civilization itself. And, there's no way that we're going to be able to manage that one.

But, what we have to do is to begin reversing the trends that are undermining global warming, whether that's rising CO2 levels, shrinking forests or inefficient population growth. How many failures and mistakes before we have a failing global civilization?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NOTE:  Because I experienced numerous internet connection problems this morning, I have only one posting.

Iran Opens Oil Bourse - Harbinger of Trouble for New York and London?

Click here to access article by John Daly from Oil Price.
Iran is working a program, that, if it succeeds, could help undermine the dollar’s preeminence as the world’s reserve currency more effectively than a Republican filibuster.

Iran’s sly weapon against the Great Satan’s currency? An oil bourse on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, which has now begun selling high-grade Iranian crude oil.
A major factor in supporting the US Empire and its ability to borrow money to finance its never ending wars, is their control of the oil market. The key linchpin of this control is the 1974 Kissinger engineered arrangement with that Middle Ages kingdom of Saudi Arabia whereby the Saudi monarchy agreed to sell their vast supplies of oil only in US dollars in return for protection by the Empire. If this appears like a Mafia style arrangement, it is because it is. 

You see, the US had sold much of its gold supply to finance the Vietnam War adventure which seriously threatened the value of its debt based currency. Then Saddam Hussein of Iraq threatened to sell his oil in Euros, and you can see where that got him. Now Iran which is a major supplier of China's oil is making plans to sell their oil in non-US dollars. Yikes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Shutdown of Investigative Journalism Department of Beijing Paper Harbinger of USA Things to Come?

Click here to access article by Rob Kall from OpEd News.

In the context of the recent reports of a shutdown of a Chinese investigative journalism unit and the concentration of media in the hands of a few who engage in corrupt practices like Murdoch's News Corp in Britain, he asks some very important questions about the freedom of journalists to pursue the truth.

My answer is that the Chinese incident is no "harbinger of things to come"--it has been an increasing reality over the past 40 years in the US. Thus, it seems to me that Rob Kall's belated observations are another example of how naive "progressives" in the US have been. As Frances Moore Lappé once wrote, it's "time for progressives to grow up."

2011 Heat Wave [in the US]

Click here to access articles from Huffington Post. And we are seeing more dust storms.

The damage caused by spewing so much carbon into the atmosphere, especially over the past century, is now coming back to haunt us, to threaten our very existence. But don't be alarmed--Exxon, Shell Oil, and the other carbon proliferating industries are busy solving the problem, that is, if you believe their ads.

The grand alliance for the commons: the task of 21 cy. politics

Click here to access article by Michel Bauwens from P2P Foundation. 

The commons which is the heritage of humanity has been largely privatized by agents of the comparatively recent system of capitalism and are threatening humanity by attacking the ecological health of the planet in order to satisfy their addiction to profits and power. Activists all over the world in a grand alliance must save humanity from the drug addicted 1%  by...
...reversing pseudo-abundance and artificial scarcity in the context of social justice, by looking at existing and emerging social movements.

Imagine – Playing for Change [4:06m video]

Click here to access the website of Play for Change Foundation which has produced this video.

This foundation is producing some really great music that can greatly assist in bringing all the people of the world together to celebrate their humanity, to reaffirm their power to change the world, and to take back the commons from the ruling capitalist classes. 

"Imagine all the people sharing all the world."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Debt : The Greeks and Deptocracy [A must-read]

Click here to access article by Aldous from Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.
A documentary film entitled Deptocracy – Chréokratia (Chréos is the Greek word meaning “debt”) has become wildly popular in Greece since that country has been systematically drained while in the clutches of the IMF. Here is a translation of the film which explains the mechanisms for subjugating a country by what economists call “Odious Debt”.
(The link to the series of You Tube videos which are in the Greek language did not work for me. Here is the link for video 1 of 5 which also provides links to the rest. There are a few English speakers featured who provide some excellent insights.)

Because this film is so excellent at shedding much needed light on the crises affecting so many hundreds of millions of people across the globe, I am astonished as to why this film has not been provided with English subtitles! This English translation of excerpts from the film is very helpful, and I thank the folks at CADTM for this contribution.

Meanwhile, in addition to reading these translated excerpts, I highly recommend that you also view this 13 minute video entitled, "Europe in Peril: Debts and Social Cuts".

It must be clearly understood that under globalized capitalism we now have a tiny first world scattered throughout the world like islands lying in oceans of third world people made up of people like you and me. Thus, the first world and the third world exists everywhere in the world. As the global capitalist elites have erased boundaries for themselves, we productive people of the world must also join hands across boundaries if we are to liberate ourselves from the debt slavery we find ourselves in. We can no longer quietly submit to the demands of our capitalist masters who insist that we slash funding for education, health, and welfare to pay these debts to them.

What has brought us to this present crisis is the organized efforts of the global capitalist elites who have created fake democratic governments throughout the world that have actively colluded with them to produce this debt enslavement. We must not limit ourselves to protests in the hope that we can get better debt payback terms from our capitalist masters. We must overturn the system of class rule based on the private ownership of the economy and a fake democracy. We must do the hard work of creating an equitable and sustainable economic system along with real democracies not only because it is just, but because it is necessary if the human race is going to survive in an ecologically stable environment.

Predator Drones and the International Mafia

Click here to access article by Dr. Reza Pankhurst from Foreign Policy Journal.
After CIA lists of targets that were sought to be “neutralized” (a bland word for assassinated), Rizzo was one of those who would sign off on the mission. If it sounds similar to the kind of activity you would expect from organized criminal gangs, Rizzo himself described it as “basically a hit list”. Just as any small-time organized crime network has a few paid lawyers to help defend the indefensible, the American administration is acting like an international mafia outfit complete with requisite legal team. But being the most militarized government in the World by far, they have access to Predator Drones, rather than being compelled to use a paid contract killer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Opposition fighters are losing battles – but winning the war

Click here to access article by Kim Sengupta from The Independent.

It appears that the recent recognition of the Libyan rebels as the legitimate government by Western countries was a desperate attempt to salvage some kind of victory out of the latest NATO imperial adventure.
While foreign countries were hailing Libya's rebel administration as the country's legitimate government, rebel fighters were showing their usual failings in combat as another much-heralded offensive in the east failed to capture the oil town of Brega.

Greece and the Gods of Neo-Liberalism

My thanks to Khalil Bendib from Jadaliyya.

In case you didn't know, Greek authorities have been acting as enforcers for the Israeli government to prevent Flotilla 2 from leaving Greek ports in order to bring humanitarian supplies through the Israeli blockage of Gaza. 

The current Prime Minister Papandreou, and his father before him, were carefully indoctrinated and supported by US political operatives to enforce neo-liberal policies in Greece which have led to the current crisis.


Click here to access this manifesto from Democracia Real YA! [Real Democracy, now!]

This is only one of the latest products reflecting the evolution of the thinking of activists who are leading the fight in Spain against the slashing of public funding and burdening working people with debts resulting from collusion of political leaders with their banking buddies. As such, it reveals the crucial recognition that the present system of "democracy" is fake, and they insist on a genuine version now. But, of course, they also realize that it will be up to them to create this system. 

Their concerns and hopes are very similar to those of working people in many Western countries. They, too, are fed up with the fake version of democracy that has led to the present economic disaster facing working people.

Now, read the following article as the latest progress report from Spanish activists and their efforts to create a real democracy. It is entitled, "Why / How to Camp". 

(Although my Spanish language ability is limited, it appears they are preparing for another big event on the 15th of October.)