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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A prime aim of the growing Surveillance State

Click here to access article by Glenn Greenwald from Salon.
Economic suffering and anxiety -- and anger over it and the flamboyant prosperity of the elites who caused it -- is only going to worsen.  So, too, will the refusal of the Western citizenry to meekly accept their predicament. As that happens, who it is who controls the Internet and the flow of information and communications takes on greater importance.  Those who are devoted to preserving the current system of prerogatives certainly know that, and that is what explains this obsession with expanding the Surveillance State and secrecy powers, maintaining control over the dissemination of information, and harshly punishing those who threaten it. 

Who–and What–Are Behind the “Official History” of the Bin Laden Raid?

Click here to access article by Russ Baker from Who, What, Why.

One of America's top investigative journalists (Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are two others that come to mind) trains his analytic radar-like vision on one more cover story of the Bin Laden raid, a story that was recently run in the prestigious New Yorker magazine.

Beyond all the contradictions, missing information, and misleading statements, one can also discern a lot about a secret government that functions behind the scenes.
When you look closely, nothing seems right about what will surely become the accepted account of the raid that nailed America’s enemy number one. And then things get even weirder…

Are These Young Men Terrorists—Or Were They Set Up?

Click here to access article by Russ Baker from Who, What, Why. 

This outstanding investigative journalist and author (Family of Secrets) introduces a new documentary film which is about the use of infiltrators and agent provocateurs by various police agencies in the US. This film will be shown on PBS on September 6th.

The Case Against the Credit Ratings Agencies

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from Naked Capitalism.

The author is no radical economist, but he is a honest critic of the capitalist system. In this piece he gives us the details on how Standard and Poor's and other financial rating agencies act as enforcers for capitalist interests, and thereby cause the devastating effects we are witnessing daily in our local communities.
Localities are pressured when their rising debt levels lead to a financial stringency. Banks pull back their credit lines, and urge cities and states to pay down their debts by selling off their most viable public enterprises. Offering opinions on this practice has become a big business for the ratings agencies. So it is understandable why their business model opposes policies – and political candidates – that support the idea of basing public financing on taxation rather than by borrowing. This self-interest colors their “opinions.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Insurrection of the English Underclass [post of the week]

Click here to access article by Takis Fotopoulostakis from The Int. Journal of Inclusive Democracy.
The insurrection of the British underclass was seen by the entire British establishment and their followers – the bourgeois class and, particularly, the petty bourgeoisie – as a case of ‘pure criminality’. In other words, the real criminals of the political, economic and cultural elites have condemned the victims of their own criminality and have been both demanding and taking the worst kind of revenge on them for revolting against a system which has been destroying their lives since the day they were born. Of course, this is not surprising considering that, throughout History, the ruling elites and the privileged social groups have labelled the people who have revolted against them as criminals, from the French and Russian revolutions to the Spanish and Greek civil wars.
The author argues a very different proposition:
...the underclass implicitly realise that the overthrow of capitalist neoliberal globalisation is not a matter of overthrowing some evil conspirators and their catastrophic policies which, supposedly, simply reflect some criminal “dogma” based on a new capitalist “strategy”, but it is actually a matter of overthrowing the very same system of the market economy, whose dynamics have inevitably led to the present globalisation!
He very aptly identifies the British insurrectionists as the new "Les Miserables"! 

However, I must take issue with what I find as weaknesses in the Inclusive Democracy project. As the author and founder of this project, Fotopoulostakis spends far too much time on his favorite target, the "degenerate left", and especially on particular people who he identifies as such. This reminds me too much of inter-sectarian wars of the past. Also, as a Greek citizen I would expect him to have much more insights on, and contributions toward, strategies for change in his native country as well as other advanced Western countries where insurrections have taken place. All he can contribute is this important, but overly broad strategy:
The obvious conclusion is that the first step towards such a society is the breaking of each country’s economic links with the internationalised market economy and the creation of the preconditions for a self-reliant...economy.... 
(Please note the rebuttal from an Inclusive Democracy spokesperson in the comments section.)

In wake of British riots, New York police prepare for unrest

Click here to access article by Bill Van Auken from World Socialist Web Site. 

More evidence that the US ruling class is preparing to reveal the ugly fist of fascism to preserve the goose, capitalism, that lays their golden eggs of wealth and power. Here the author provides evidence from New York City of increased riot training, aggressive attacks on citizens, and more hires for police forces.

What next for Wisconsin? [7:00m video]

The Real News provides us with this commentary by Allen Ruff, a program host for a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin. 

I have known of the results since the election results last week, but I have been waiting for a good analysis of the results. Ruff provides this. Clearly this recent electoral defeat was only one small battle in the war against the system. People like Ruff are learning some important lessons from this defeat.

He has reached the critically important conclusion that activists must not rely on creating change through the system's political and labor institutions. The latter have been shaped and refined over long periods of time to serve the interests of the ruling class. The labor unions and the Democratic party are key elements to contain dissent within limits that are tolerable to the political operatives of the capitalists. I certainly do not recommend opting out of these organizations, but activists must adopt a strategy that is multifaceted. Such a strategy would include community organizing, protests, campaigns targeting corporations, along with working within labor unions and the Democratic party to change their direction.

Austerity is Euphemism for Class War Waged by Rich

Click here to access article and video by Michael Truscello from Dissident Voice.

I have not had time yet to view his 1:39:45 video, but his introduction in this article promises development of a critically important theme: Capitalism Is The Crisis (the title of his film).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The U.K. Riots And The Coming Global Class War

Click here to access article by Joel Kotkin from Forbes. 

It seems that this capitalist source can only see class war as an option, not changing the system. Hence, one must assume that they are girding for war. Well, there has always been class war since the beginning of the agrarian age (see this for more explanation), but what I mean is a more aggressive level of class war, something like fascism.
...modern society cannot run according to the individualist credo of Ayn Rand; economic systems, to be credible and socially sustainable, must deliver results to the vast majority of citizens. If capitalism cannot do that expect more outbreaks of violence and greater levels of political alienation — not only in Britain but across most of the world’s leading countries, including the U.S.

Driving People into Rebellion

Click here to access article by Stephen Harper from Dissident Voice.
These events are not simply a response to the ‘neoliberalism’ which it is fashionable for left-liberals like to denounce (subtext: if only we could ditch those nasty Tories and install a more clement, democratic system of exploitation, then everything would be alright). Rather, they represent the death throes of the moribund system of capitalism. As the signs of social decomposition become harder to ignore, we should be very clear that the future offers, as Rosa Luxemburg postulated, only two possibilities: socialism or barbarism. The anti-social aspects of these riots, and the response to them by right-wing ‘vigilante’ groups, give us a glimpse of what that second possibility might look like: a Hobbesian war of each against all, fueled by racism and nationalism and leading to what Marx and Engels, in one of their gloomier moments, called the ‘mutual ruination of the contending classes’.
I think the big question is: will we allow the capitalist system to degrade society into barbarism, or will we act in an intelligent, organized fashion to destroy the system and replace it with a system that sustains societies?

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?

Click here to access article by Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone Magazine.
As a federally protected whistle-blower, Flynn is not permitted to speak to the press. But in evidence he presented to the SEC's inspector general and three congressional committees earlier this summer, the 13-year veteran of the agency paints a startling picture of a federal police force that has effectively been conquered by the financial criminals it is charged with investigating.
So much for federal regulatory agencies--because even when they exist, they function to serve the interests of the class that rules over us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

NOTICE: Because I have too many distractions to deal with today, I will not be entering any posts. Everything should be fine tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What Your Elected Representives Do When Not in Session

by Ron Horn for this blog.

To show how American democracy is currently functioning, I thought I'd bring you up to date with some currents events which you will not see reported in mainstream media. First, I'd like to bring to your attention what your state legislators have been doing. 

From August 3 through August 6 they were brought to New Orleans for wining and dining, and most importantly, to learn what legislative bills their corporate sponsors wanted. Trips and expenses were paid for by ALEC which...
...describes itself as the largest “membership association of state legislators,” but over 98% of its revenue comes from sources other than legislative dues, primarily from corporations and corporate foundations.
Read this report from PR Watch to learn about the details of how corporations make it easy for legislators by writing the bills for them.
ALEC's power lies not only in generating corporate-sponsored "model bills" for state legislators to make law, but that it facilitates multiple levels of influence-peddling. ALEC itself has a $7 million budget and 32 staffers. In addition to this budget, ALEC technically acts as an intermediary for about a million dollars in travel "scholarships" that pay for many legislators' trips to ALEC meetings, with corporate funds for the scholarships held in trust by ALEC. With corporate "sponsorship" of ALEC meetings, a couple million dollars flow through ALEC to put on days of workshops, meetings, and festivities. (This does not account for the dollars corporations spend for lobbyists to prepare for and meet with ALEC legislators in pursuit of their legislative agenda, nor does it take into account any campaign contributions that might result from the relationships cultivated at ALEC meetings.)
(See also previous articles regarding ALEC published on this blog: here and here.)

Next, let us see what our Congressional members are doing currently. It seems that they are making their annual expense paid trips to Israel to be wined and dined courtesy of an AIPAC affiliate. Stephen Lendman has the scoop on this. Read "Congressional Junkets to Israel" for the disgusting details.
Heading each [two groups] are House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) and House Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA). Spouses are also going at an estimated cost of $8,000, including business-class flights, first-class hotels, meals, transportation, side trips, guides and incidentals.

Red carpet treatment is assured along with considerable pro-Israeli messaging, especially for new incoming freshmen. They'll meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, as well as PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah. Legitimate Hamas leaders are excluded.

Their entire week is choreographed and full, from early morning to late evening, including breakfast and dinner speakers, as well as meetings with other government officials.
It's obvious to me that what our "democratically elected" representatives do away from their offices is far more important to how our governments actually function. Yet, none of these activities are ever reported in mainstream media.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Commons Manifesto

Click here to access article by Justin Kenrick from Bella Caledonia (Scotland). 

Much food for thought here on an alternative way of living, especially an alternative to the community and soul destroying way of living that we presently experience:
The command and control system of elite domination and extraction – especially but not solely in its recent form of capitalism – has not just destroyed communities in the Highlands of Scotland and Papua New Guinea, but thrives on destroying the possibility of community in the cities and replacing it with consumption and interaction mediated through forms which generate profit for some and loss for everyone else. More than this, this form of domination, extraction and expansion not only destroys our pleasure in each other and ecosystems, but is reaching the limits of the ecologically tolerable as the forests, oceans, topsoil and climate are destroyed and poisoned. Trusting such as system to deliver well-being is mistaken at all levels.

As Economy Tanks, "New Normal" Police State Takes Shape

Click here to access article by Tom Burghardt from Antifascist Calling.

This is quite a lengthy article in which he provides numerous links to information to support his thesis: a police state is taking shape and the ruling class wants you to think of it as a normal state of affairs.

Here in the Northwest where I live, there have been numerous incidents of conflicts between border patrol agents and local citizens and migrant workers. This morning I've come across a new report from a Canadian source which reports on a US border patrol officer's attempt to act as a whistle-blower on our government's wasteful and needless hiring of so many border patrol agents for this area. It seems that the latter have nothing to do but harass working people.

However, from the point of view of the political operatives of the ruling class, I don't believe that these officers are "needless". I think that all US police and "security" agencies have been beefed up to establish the police state that Burghardt writes about in order to prepare for civil unrest from its own citizens.

The Syrian "Common": The Uprising of the Working Society

Click here to access article by Yassin Al Haj Saleh from Jadaliyya. (This actually was written in June, but only now translated into English for this website.)

I absolutely loved the perspective on the Syrian uprising as offered by this author. I think that this piece has to a great extent captured the spirit of the uprisings that are occurring in many parts of the world, and this spirit could very well succeed in bringing profound changes--I'm thinking epochal changes. 

Ever since the beginning of the agrarian age (10,000 years ago?) when surplus goods were produced for the first time, societies have been plagued by class divisions and conflict. It seems that there were always people who no longer wanted to share the bounty, but to control and appropriate it for themselves and their families--you know, the kind of people Margaret Thatcher thought were normal. Often such people formed priesthoods and hoodwinked people into thinking that they had privileges because of some type of divine connections to gods. Other societies came under the control of a warrior class who insisted on appropriating most of the wealth. Later, we have seen slavery, landed aristocracies, state bureaucracies, capitalists, and combinations of all such arrangements claiming the right to take possession of most of the socially produced wealth. 

But, notice that the human spirit that demands social justice never really died. There have always been rebellions against such arrangements, and many succeeded for a time until some new special ruling group took over. Are the uprisings and protests that the author describes in Syria illustrative of what is happening in so many places across the globe? Do these events herald a new universal spirit of resistance to class-based societies everywhere? 
...nothing will bring back those who have participated in this noble act of freedom and have experienced the ecstasy of rebelling, to the political, moral and intellectual decay the regime has in store for them. If this regime is enslaved by and addicted to power, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have developed a more powerful addiction to freedom and collective rebellion. While the regime worked for half a century to strip Syrians of political interest and to spread apathy among them, the uprising today represents a great collective rehearsal on politics and on developing a concern for common interests. In this respect, one hopes that this rehearsal on freedom continues despite its dangers and cost. The sacrifice and selflessness that marks the participation in this uprising, the atmosphere of brotherhood and confidence among people, the broad mixture and coming together, the intense reactions and sharing of pain, all make it a sublime manifestation of life, one that is rarely possible.

On the Current Conjuncture in Israel

Click here to access article by Matan Kaminer from Jadaliyya. 
Many progressives around the world have been wondering out loud about what exactly has been going on here for the last month. Who are the unprecedented crowds taking to the streets in the name of "the people" (ha'am), demanding "social justice" (tzedek hevrati), and what exactly do they want? Is there any connection to the ongoing occupation and oppression of the Palestinians? And if not, can the protests be at all justified?
This article provides a much needed analysis of the current protest movement occurring in Israel. It is not always easy for American readers to follow with the author's use of English, but very much worth the effort. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Punk Patriot: The Whole F**king Thing Is Coming Down

Click here to access 2:11m video and lyrics from October 2011.
Hedge funds, derivatives, tea pot dome
wall street gambling, using your home
congress isn't gonna do a single fucking thing
because their campaign contributions all come attached to strings
The Democratic Party is a failing institution
what we need now is a real revolution

Collateral Damage in the War on Anonymity

Click here to access article by David Sirota from In These Times. 

I think that the author tries too hard to be "balanced" in reporting this issue. Clearly the authorities will maintain their anonymity and will seek to reveal all those who stand in the way of the interests of the ruling capitalist class. Surveilling authorities is often illegal. Thus, ruling class authorities are only exploiting the issue of right-wing attacks on civil liberties and assaults on people by increasing their surveillance of political activists. 

It is precisely the right-wing propaganda organs of the ruling class that spew out hate messages that provide an acceptable climate for crazies to act out their fantasies. (See this excellent piece for an explanation of this argument.) So, instead of cracking down on propagandists and cultural productions that encourage hate toward minorities, they use sensational incidents to further the surveillance of, and crackdown on, political activists. The cultural producers of the ruling class largely create the problem, and then use the problem against political dissidents.

BART Pulls a Mubarak in San Francisco

Click here to access article by Eva Galperin from Electronic Frontier Foundation.

This incident may be an indication of things to come: a willingness of authorities to shut down the internet to prevent protests and activism in spite of its gross violation of First Amendment Constitutional rights.
This week, EFF has seen censorship stories move closer and closer to home — first Iran, then the UK, and now San Francisco, an early locus of the modern free speech movement. Operators of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) shut down cell phone service to four stations in downtown San Francisco yesterday in response to a planned protest.
See also this piece by the same author.

NATO reneges on its mission

Click here to access article by Thierry Meyssan from Voltaire. 

This astute observer fills in the missing news about Libya on US mainstream media. Nothing of the NATO campaign has been reported in the US for many weeks simply because the news is not good. The campaign is in shambles, and extensive efforts are underway to salvage something for the Empire from the disaster. The author presents a very different view of Libyan society that may offer some insights for NATO's defeat:
The country is ruled by people’s congresses and Muammar Gaddafi has reduced most of the administrations to their simplest expression. There are no grand ministries to be found here, only small offices. The ministers are not high-profile personalities, but simply team leaders. They are the advisers who are assisting the people through their powerful skills. Power is diluted and elusive. What used to be a headache for the businessmen who visited Libya, i.e. finding the right interlocutors, has now become an enigma for NATO strategists: who should one target? After five months of bombardments, they still have to figure it out.
See also this report by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.

Food Companies Lobby Hard to Lower Healthy Standards for Kids

Click here to access article by Sarah Borron from Food & Water Watch. 

Nothing in capitalist societies trumps profits--not even the health and welfare of children.
Today one in three American children are overweight or obese. Restricting unhealthy food marketing to youth is one important step in addressing this crisis. Corporations spend close to $1.6 billion marketing food to children each year. Kids see unhealthy food marketing on television commercials and product placements, on websites featuring “advergames” based around foods, and even in schools.