The key idea in this animated film was this: the pawns revolt against the 'ruling class' pieces, sweep them from the board and then dance an American square dance on the board. In the end, however, they start a new chess game, but this time the pawns are on the back row moving like Kings and bishops and the like, while the old aristocratic pieces occupy the pawn row and move like pawns. The message of the film was that the pawns failed to make a revolution because they thought it was sufficient to depose the old elite. They neglected to remove the board itself. The chessboard, then, was a metaphor for underlying social structure that generates 'the rules of the game'. A revolution, to be sustainable, has to transform that.
Now, this idea is not a uniquely Marxist idea. In a sense it is the foundational idea of much structurally oriented sociology: people fill “locations” in social structures — sometimes called roles — which impose constraints and opportunities on what they can chose to do. This doesn’t mean that human practices or activities are rigidly determined by roles. Intentions and choices still really matter. Agency matters. But such choice occurs in a setting of systematic (rather than haphazard) constraints.
The Marxist form of this general idea is to make a claim — a pretty bold one when you think about it — that the key to understanding this structural level of constraint is the nature of the economic structure in which people live, or even more precisely, the nature of the “mode of production”. In my little film there was no production, no economy. The chessboard was a completely open-ended metaphor for social structure. So it is in that sense that the film was not specifically based on a Marxist framework.
As for its inspiration, I think the film grew out of the concerns for radical, egalitarian social change that were part of the intellectual culture of the student movement, the American civil rights movement and Vietnam War era anti-war movement. I participated in various ways in these social movements of the 1960s and was very much caught up in the utopian aspirations of the times, but I also felt that the task of constructing emancipatory alternatives was more arduous than many people thought. It is not enough to attack the establishment and remove its players. Constructing an alternative is a task in its own right. And that is what the film tried to convey.
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, January 14, 2012
The author examines the latest US Department of Defense document, its military posture, and its propaganda which sees threats everywhere to paint a very Orwellian picture that resembles "something like an American Thousand-Year Reich".
To Washington, any country capable of resisting American attack, or of "defying" American commands (whether under a UN Security Council figleaf or not) is by definition a "threat." And any country inflicting significant losses on US military forces, in the process of defending itself against American military attack, is guilty of aggression (against US attempts to "defend our freedom," one presumes).
|The latest "terrorist" targeted by the Empire|
The author exposes how the Empire manipulates the use of the word "terrorism" to serve its purposes.
The Empire's propaganda machinery is prepping the British public to support another invasion of an independent Middle Eastern country.
It has been an ugly, damaging experiment. The whole point of Guantánamo was to create a regime of incarceration and interrogation—including torture—that the law could not reach: a “legal black hole"....After 10 years we finally have a more complete picture on the human rights crimes committed at Guantánamo by the political operatives of the One Percent. I think future historians will regard this report as a major document on these crimes. I could only manage to read 7 of the 10 pages. Here is the final statement from the report:
January 11, 2012: The 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at Guantánamo. In all, 779 prisoners have been held at Guantánamo since the facility opened. More than 550 have been transferred to the custody of other countries or given freedom and resettled. Eight have died in U.S. custody. 171 remain in detention at Guantánamo. Of these, 59 have been cleared for transfer. As many as 36 will have their cases heard under a reconstituted military tribunal system; so far, military tribunals have adjudicated only a handful of such cases. The remaining detainees could be held in indefinite detention, perhaps for life, under a policy set out by the Obama administration in March 2011. These detainees, according to intelligence assessments, are too dangerous to release; at the same time, they cannot be brought to trial because of evidentiary problems. Unless Congress changes its mind about incarceration on the U.S. mainland, these remaining detainees will be held at Guantánamo, which will remain open indefinitely.
...one thing they’ve all agreed to cut is 7 million acres from the Conservation Reserve Program.Political operatives for corporate agriculture couldn't care less about global warming. They are employed to deliver the drug of choice to the ruling One Percent--profits.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that this amount of carbon is equivalent to the annual emissions of 2 million passenger vehicles. All that stored carbon will be sent back into the atmosphere if those 7 million acres are plowed under to plant more industrial-scale corn for ethanol and livestock feed.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Populism Isn't Dead, It's Marching: What 19th Century Farmers Can Teach Occupiers About How to Keep Going
The author obviously read Lawrence Goodwyn's book entitled, Democratic Promise, and was very much inspired by it. It is a book about the late 19th century American populists who really stirred up a lot of shit against the rising financial class. As you may have noticed, this book is on my recommended reading list on the right side of this blog.
The only fault I find with this essay is that she got a bit carried away with her inspiration and went into too much detail about ideas that the Populist movement inspired in her. Instead, I think it is more important to try to derive the important principles behind the success and failure of this movement that might apply to the current Occupy movement.
It seems to me that the achievements of the Populist movement were accomplished because of a growing awareness that they desperately needed to cooperate and collaborate if they as farmers were going to survive at all. These farmers were an eminently practical people who had to engage their creativity and their knowledge to survive as independent producers of crops. They brought these assets to their meetings, combined them in a spirit of one-for-all and all-for-one. It was a truly social consciousness informed by a sense that they had to be their brother's keeper. They realized that they had to come together and cooperate in order to survive in a class structured society. They learned from each other that a class of people called capitalists had enormous power over them because of the system that capitalists had created. The achievements of the Populist movement flowed from this consciousness. It provided the impetus to engage their creativity, their knowledge about organizing, and together they learned how to fight the political system.
The industrial-financial components of the capitalist ruling class of this period used every weapon in their arsenal to undermine the Populist movement. I'll not go into detail about them (read the book), but they are familiar to us: co-optation, some reforms that made minor improvements, divide and conquer tactics, various forms of attacks on Populist organizers ranging from economic to outright terrorism, and ideological attacks on Populism and promotion of individualistic values through capitalist control of mainstream media.
Today we are witnessing the endgame of capitalism: the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a very small segment of the world's population with devastating effects for the rest of us--lives filled with debt, limited employment and educational prospects, and poverty while witnessing ever worsening ecological deterioration. I think that we are now facing our last chance to save ourselves. We simply must get it right this time.
Getting it right means for me that we must totally embrace a social consciousness, one that is free of any form of class privilege, one that embraces life and nature in all its variety and acknowledges that humans are a part of this web of life, that we must protect the web of life which sustains all life including our lives.
Because capitalism is a total system that colors nearly all aspects of our lives, we must build a new society from the ground up. That means we must take control of our culture, our media, our values, the way we behave when we are with each other and change it all to serve all our needs.
Fortunately, we have a splendid amount of technology and knowledge that we have created to help us with this endeavor. Unfortunately, because of the rules of capitalism so much of it is "owned" and controlled by the One Percent. This we must change. We can do all of this, but it means that we must bring together our greatest assets--creativity, energy, patience, empathy, knowledge, skills, endurance, etc. and put them all together to create a new social consciousness to serve the legitimate needs of everyone--the 100%.
The threat of fresh economic turmoil and social upheaval could put at risk the gains produced by globalisation, the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.
In its annual assessment of the outlook for the global economy, the WEF set the scene for its meeting in Davos later this month by warning that the "seeds of dystopia" were being sown.The World Economic Forum is, of course, where the political operatives of the world's ruling capitalist class come together once a year to plot strategy, which means conspire to serve their needs. (Yes, conspiracy, like shit, happens!) This year they are clearly worried. Their policies of globalization are now wrecking havoc on the 99 Percent and the environment. They are beginning to see signs of revolt coming from the hoi poloi. I really don't think that they are worried about dystopia so much as they are about the revolting 99 Percent, especially the way the latter are using the internet to change things.
The NDAA, which authorizes the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil, was met with outrage from the American public. The media largely refused to cover the NDAA until it was too late, and the bill had been signed into law. We are now faced with a similar situation. The Enemy Expatriation Act has been introduced in the House, and again, the media refuses to cover it. The American public have the right to know about a bill that could revoke their United States citizenship, and the continuing media blackout poses a serious threat to the freedoms this country pledges to provide its citizens.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Following NATO's overthrow of Qaddafi's government in Libya and the installation of a pro-Western regime, the Empire is currently engaged in the same regime change program in Syria and Iran. This program has many facets to it including the use of mercenary terrorists to create chaos, but I will largely emphasize one theme--there is a massive propaganda campaign in the Empire's home countries to support these projects.
It is very difficult here in the US to find alternative sources of information about developments in Syria. Examine three current reports about the situation in Syria which I think represent three types of coverage--1) pro-Empire propaganda, 2) an attempt at reporting different views on what is happening, and 3) an anti-Empire critique from a US author and political analyst. The first type of coverage is pervasive in the US and Western media to the exclusion of any other interpretations.
- Many Arab monitors said to question Syria mission
- Discord among Arab monitors as Russia warns of Syria intervention
- US bringing the Salvadorian option to Syria (A transcript of interview segment on Iranian PressTV)
Meanwhile, the ongoing brutal repression of dissidents in Bahrain where the Empire has stationed its Fifth Fleet has been almost totally disappeared from US mainstream media.
The Empire's monopoly on news and analysis is at least as important as their use of violence to keep people all over the world serving the (.1 of the) One Percent who rule most of the world. Hence, it is of critical importance for the 99 Percent to organize their own sources of information to support their war against the political operatives of the One Percent.
What’s most remarkable here is to compare the boisterous, furious denunciations of the mere suggestion by a blogger on the Internet [in 2007] that Iranian scientists be killed, versus the relative silence in the face of its actually being done in real life, now that the corpses of murdered Iranian scientists are beginning to pile up. Does anyone doubt that some combination of the two nations completely obsessed with Iran’s nuclear program — Israel and the U.S. — are responsible?
The whole program lasts about 52 minutes, but I recommend listening specifically to the segment from 37:00 to 51:50 for more focused comments related to the Occupy movement.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
...true leaders can only emerge in the context of real democracy; both need the other.The writer seems to be missing the creative work that the Occupy Movement has accomplished in organizing a new type of democratic structure. I am referring to the invention of the Spokes Council and the recent advocacy of affinity groups as a dynamic nucleus for the Movement.
There is no blueprint for movement building, but general principles can be erected based on the revolutionary experiences of the past. The key strategies of Occupy should be based on those ideas that unify and promote collective action against the 1%.
Ultimately Occupy needs to organize for power; we need a greater power to displace the current power of the 1%. This doesn't mean that we must adopt the same forms of power utilized by the state, but that new ones must be created, while using EVERY opportunity within the existing structure to organize, educate, and mobilize working people.
Granted that the Occupiers already have "leaders" of a sort such as Chomsky, for example. However, they represent a very different type of leader than the traditional type. Thus, I don't think that using the same word to label both of them is useful. The difference is very significant. The label that traditional usage refers to is someone who others tend to defer to in the sense of following uncritically, someone who is ultimately empowered with authority and privileges. This inevitably evolves into a vanguard which, in turn, evolves into a ruling class which, I think is clear, is the downfall of all revolutionary movements.
Traditional organizations are based on a false self-serving premise: that only a few people are endowed with exceptional leadership abilities. The latter are these gifted people. They are the winners, the rest of us are losers. They have a moral right to more power and privileges than we do. With more power and privileges their families are strengthened because their children receive all the benefits. The latter are given better opportunities in education, in appointments to offices and vocational positions, and more monetary rewards. They become divorced from the rest of society. This leads to exploitation. They constitute a ruling class. Their power and privileges insulate them from the consequences of their policies. And, they engage in power struggles with other elites which often leads to wars. This is where we are today.
Hence the necessity to develop another way to elicit the best talents of the people for the benefit of all the people. The Occupiers intuitively know this and are attempting to meet that challenge.
What the Occupiers are beginning to recognize is that people have a variety of strengths, and all are needed to sustain the movement against the juggernaut of voracious capitalism. Individual strengths must be promoted by giving people opportunities, responsibilities, education, and critical feedback as to how well their particular talents are serving their peers. But, they must never be given uncritical deference. Any authority and responsibility can only be given them by the communities they serve, and can always be removed by these constituents. Chomsky is only a leader in the sense that some of his ideas have been accepted by others. He, and all participants, must always be inextricably connected to rest of society and be subject to their acceptance.
We will save the markets, not the climate. That is how we can summarize the outcome of the [Durban UN conference].... There is a striking contrast between the rapid response by governments and international institutions at the onset of the economic and financial crisis of 2007-08 in bailing out private banks with public money and the complete immobility they demonstrate in response to climate change. Yet this should not surprise us, because in both cases it is the markets and their accomplices in government who come out as winners.The evidence keeps piling up that capitalism is on a collision course with an ecology that can sustain human life. Now, it is starkly clear that there is more than social-economic justice at stake--far more. Now it is the survival of the human race that we must fight for, and it is the capitalist system that stands in our way.
In Western society, the subconscious mind of the individual is often subject to a number of heavy influences, through entertainment media especially. Television, movies, and music create a profound subconscious effect on the human mind that influences and dictates the choices that they will make to at least some degree.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Based on two recent studies, the author spells out the direct connection between the evasion of taxes by corporations and the current reduction of spending on our children's education.
Corporate state tax avoidance is about $14 billion for one year.
State education cuts amount to about $12.7 billion for one year.
In case you missed that infamous internal document leaked from Citigroup by some wonderful person...
White collar criminologist William Black dissects a 2005 Citigroup memo intended for its wealthiest clients that describes the US, UK, and Canada as plutonomies — countries where rule by an ultra-rich managerial class has replaced democracy.
Also, you can access the document by clicking on my second posting here.
There appears that Citigroup is making an effort to remove the document from the web. See this.
Do not call them “heroes”
if they have done your killing for you.
Say that they have done your bidding;
say they were your “soldiers.”
mortified and mortared.
They neither complain nor contradict.
They don’t re-live “friendly fire” incidents,
the sonofabitch sargeant-sadist,
nor the rapist in their midst.
They don’t see again
the faces of traumatized children.
Their bones stretch to attention under the sod.
aware of his power and dignity,
is more than human, is humane.
Israeli political operatives are accelerating their facts on the ground, one building at a time.
Israel's government broke all its illegal settlement-building records in 2011, diminishing prospects for establishing a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank, Israel's anti-settlement activist group "Peace Now" said on Tuesday.
Engdahl casts his penetrating eyes on US NGO's activity in influencing Russian elections, and on other New World Order matters.
What really struck me as being "spot on" was this statement:
What is clear is that Washington is pushing on all fronts—Iran and Syria, where Russia has a vital naval port, on China, now on Russia, and on the Eurozone countries led by Germany. It has the smell of an end-game attempt by a declining superpower.Is it possible that the hyper-aggressive policies both domestic and international that is emanating from Washington are being fueled by end-game anxieties? This is both a dangerous time and a time of hope for better things to come. What is certain is that we, the people, must be engaged in these events or we will be consumed by them.
Monday, January 9, 2012
War Plan Iran: The US Finally Admits Its Criminal Bankruptcy. “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.”
So if Iran is not even trying to develop a nuclear weapon, as Panetta now admits, what then is the criminal US warmongering predicated on? Unofficially, the real reason is imperialist rivalry with other powers (Russian and China in particular) in the energy-rich Persian Gulf and Central Asia regions, and the attempt to engineer “regime change” in Iran to one that is pliant with Washington’s geopolitical designs.Panetta's statements reveal the essential imperial core of those who are directing the Empire's policies and actions. They reveal the arrogance of the Empire's leaders who assume an (immoral) right to determine other nation's policies if such policies are not in the interest of the Empire's One Percent.
It's clear to me that the enforcers of the New World Order are collaborating and coordinating tactics across national boundaries to repress and criminalize all forms of protest against their interests.
...Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, who requested the additional surveillance, has been prompted by energy company lobbying to urge stronger criminal penalties against protests that disrupt critical energy infrastructure.
I am posting this article mostly to highlight the almost total lack of accurate information regarding mining interests in central Africa, particularly in the so-called Democratic Republic of Congo. When this situation occurs anywhere in the world where capitalist ruling circles have an interest, you can be sure that their media reports will be full of misinformation or omission of significant information. This is especially true of events in this country which contains so many valuable minerals that Western corporations are accessing at very low cost while creating so much political corruption and hardship for the people of this country.
So, read the article, and then listen to a segment of a KPFA news program featuring comments by Keith Harmon Snow, an outstanding independent journalist, who provides a snapshot of the real story behind the suffering of the people in this country. His report can be accessed from 12:52m to 16:42m in the news program.
"Stockholders in these companies include arms dealers, Wall Street investment banks, tycoons -- the "untouchables" who are never mentioned in the news, in Human Rights Watch reports or UN reports, or by the non-profit organizations that organize speakers tours at US Colleges to "Save" or "RAISE HOPE" for the Congo..."
Click to listen (or download)
Keith Harmon Snow is currently working on a documentary and a book about African affairs entitled, "Politics of Genocide in Central Africa" and needs our assistance to complete these projects. Access the Conscious Being website and donate to support his work.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Department of Defense training manuals call protests "low-level terrorism." An FBI memo says peace protesters are "terrorists." Throughout his tenure, Obama's destroyed [more] human rights and civil liberties than Bush II.The political operatives of the One Percent are intent upon excluding all independent media coverage. That is precisely why the Occupy movement must create and support independent media as much as possible.
Journalists are singled out and targeted. On January 7, Press TV said nearly 40 journalists have been arrested since September protests began. In early January, technicians working for Global Revolution were arrested for streaming live OWS protest video.
Journalists have been harassed, arrested, handcuffed, and beaten for doing their job. Free Press.net's Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director Josh Stearns reported last November that 10 New York-based journalists were violently arrested in an early morning raid.