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, January 28, 2012

The Internet’s Unholy Marriage to Capitalism

Click here to access article by John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney from Monthly Review.

The article is quite lengthy, but important for those who wish to understand the history behind the concepts which inform today's issues about private ownership of even vital public interests. And the internet is vital.
Communication is more than an ordinary market. Indeed, it is properly not a market at all. It is more like air or water—a form of public wealth, a commons. When Aristotle said that human beings were “social animals,” he might just as well have said that we are communicative animals. We know that the human brain coevolved with language (a social characteristic).63 The development of social relations and democratic forms, as well as science, culture, etc., are all communicative. The rise of the Internet as a form of free communication, seemingly without limits, thus raises the prospect of vast new realms of human sociability and enhanced democratic possibilities. Yet, rather than a means of expanding human sociability, the Internet is being turned into the opposite: a new means of alienation
The authors argue the following:
...that there was—and remains—extraordinary democratic and revolutionary promise in this communication revolution. But technologies do not ride roughshod over history, regardless of their immense powers. They are developed in a social, political, and economic context. And this has strongly conditioned the course and shape of the communication revolution.
Of course, the context they are referring to is the development of capitalism with its dynamic of private pursuit of wealth and the commodification of everything for this purpose. They conclude their essay with this critically important point:
People in the United States and worldwide must redouble their efforts to [insure public access to the Internet]. The outcome is far from certain, and the issues are still very much in play. A global network of resistance is both necessary and feasible. Indeed, in view of the nature of the Internet and the stakes involved, it seems fair to say that these issues will only become more encompassing in coming years. How this battle plays out will go a long way toward determining our future as social animals. [My emphasis]

Generals Still in Charge: Tough Days Ahead in Egypt

Click here to access article by Carl Finamore from CounterPunch. 

This labor delegate from San Francisco has been on the scene of the recent Tahrir Square gatherings in Cairo and reports his observations. Very informative.

It appears that the Egyptian military, no doubt influenced by the careful guidance of US political operatives (see this), is so far managing the protests well by using restraint, concessions, and with elections that produced the right mix of a compliant Islamic parliament lead by what appears to be a co-opted Muslim Brotherhood.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

Occupy South Africa: “we are all kings and queens!”

Click here to access article by Joe Hani from Reflections on a Revolution. (Note: Jacob Zuma and Hellen Zille referred to in the article are leaders of the two main political parties.)

The author brings us up-to-date on affairs in South Africa:
Suffering from the highest income divide and the worst violence in the world, the time has come for the people of S-Africa to rise up and reclaim their country.
In 1994 US media made much of the overturning of the regime of apartheid in South Africa. But, isn't it once again so amazing how "the more things change the more they remain the same". We in the US and many others in the world have experienced the same phenomenon. Our ancestors in the US felt that with the American Revolution they had achieved liberty and some real democracy only to discover that there was only a change in the names of their oppressors. 

Because of the ease of the new electronic communications, ideas now spread at the speed of light across the world with the result that people everywhere are encountering new ideas about social-economic arrangements and their effects on societies. People are becoming aware of the real source of their oppression--a social-economic arrangement called capitalism which allows private individuals to "own" wealth that is socially produced, and the overwhelming power that this arrangement gives to the "owners".
Corporations from America to Europe through Israel and Saudi Arabia and all the way East to Japan, China and Australia have a dominant control of our countries resources and property while we the people who were already poor are becoming even poorer.
Probably the most revolutionary new idea is that we, all of us, are, or must be, kings and queens. Which means that we must all take responsibility for our lives and our societies. It means that we all, collectively, possess those many qualities that are needed to make a healthy, just society: skills, creativity, initiative, endurance, patience, mental and physical strength, empathy, intelligence, etc. We must no longer allow the fiction of private ownership over socially produced wealth to rule our societies.

Opportunists and the Revolution

Click here to access article by Gilbert Achcar from Al Akhbar. 
One of the most important achievements of the current Arab revolutions with regard to the image of the Arabs is that it shattered the caricature shaped by Western Orientalism about Arab submissiveness and Arab or Muslim cultural addiction to servility, as if Arabs hated freedom and loved tyranny.
This piece is infused with much wisdom about the irony of typical political change. The author focuses on this subject within the context of current Arab affairs, specifically in the way they are being played out in Tunisia and Egypt. 

Regardless of culture or geography until ordinary people see the necessity of taking control of their societies, there will be no social justice--only a change of personnel. A new political arrangement will have to be created to insure that no one or no class of people have any advantages or privileges over people in general. Such an arrangement will insure that everyone must assume responsibility for the social-economic conditions of their respective societies. Societies must be organized so that political power will be widely dispersed so that opportunities for individuals or classes of people to exert extraordinary control and assume special privileges will never occur again.

Should consumers boycott Apple?

Click here to access article by Alexandra Le Tellier from Los Angeles Times.

Apparently now that the obscene exploitation of Chinese workers by US corporations is becoming common knowledge through reports filtering in from foreign and domestic independent sources, the NY Times is now covering the story and, by it leadership role in US media, is giving permission to other US media outlets to also start reporting this story and offering opinion pieces on the subject. I think that is the way that coverage is controlled in the US by our political masters in the One Percent. The Washington Post also appears to function the same way.

Because of the great concentration of ownership and control of US media, the ruling One Percent do not need an Orwellian Ministry of Truth or a Pravda to control information that is allowed to be released to its citizens. By this more indirect means of control, they have succeeded in the minds of many of its citizens to maintain the fiction of an independent media and objective reporting while actually controlling what information is provided and how it is framed for consumption.

Hence, it is of vital importance in any serious effort to change the power arrangements of our society to first, support all independent journalists as much as we can, and second, to establish and support our own media institutions.

Presidency of Arab League seeks to bury own experts’ report

Click here to access article from Voltaire Network.
Since the outbreak of the events that have cast a dark shadow over Syria, two interpretations stand in opposition to each other: for the West and their Gulf allies, the regime crushed the popular revolution in blood, while for Syria and its BRICS allies, the country is assailed by armed groups coming from abroad.
Because we do not have access to the report of the Arab League Observer Mission, it is difficult to be 100% sure whose version is correct. Fortunately, we also have had some access to independent journalist coverage provided by Voltaire Network journalists. But it doesn't take much in the way of intelligence to know that if the Arab League report confirmed Western media coverage that the report would be made public. So, in its absence Western media can keep on with their story line of the Syrian government's oppression of their people in order to prepare citizens in the West to support another Libya type of operation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Green economy and growth: Fiddling while Rome burns?

Click here to access article by Manu V. Mathai from Our World 2.0. 

I am posting this article to illustrate how most Western academics deal with the problem of ecological limits which faces the capitalist system.

The author's article contains some useful insights such as this:
The basic problem is that the implementation of sustainable development unevenly emphasizes economic growth, and equity is seen as a managed outcome of applying modern science and technology to expand the economic pie and its subsequent allocation through free markets.
However, he treats the subject from such a high level of abstraction that he cannot really zero in on the root causes behind this dilemma. For example, in this statement he seems to suggest that technology itself created the problem:
Lewis Mumford eloquently reported on this sudden encounter that put “mankind in a fever of exploitation”, so much so that the logic of mining pervaded the “economic and social organism” and became the norm for subsidiary economic and industrial organization.  This logic of “disorderly exploitation and wasteful expenditure” acquired a life of its own and continued to propagate quite independently of whether or not the initial mine of energy was depleted. 
The closest he can come to understanding the problem is with this statement:
What appears to be lacking is the ability for society to influence the evolution of technology and to impart to it values of sufficiency.
This kind of examination of the inability of societies appearing to be unable to cope with resource and ecological limits is very typical of people who are situated in Western academic institutions. This is because the ruling One Percent has insured its influence over this vital institution as it has over all other important institutions. 

People who rise to the top in universities in capitalist countries have been thoroughly indoctrinated in capitalist values and biases. Likewise they have learned to avoid any critical examination of their societies that might be counter to capitalist interests. People who fail to learn this are almost always weeded out of universities at some point in their education. (To understand this process of indoctrination and selection/rejection I highly recommend that you read a book entitled Disciplined Minds by Eric Schmidt.)

Thus, he dare not, or is unable, to reach the obvious insight that the dynamics of capitalism are fundamentally in opposition to conservation of resources and a democratically planned economy.

We've hit "peak oil"; now comes permanent price volatility

Click here to access article by John Timmer from Ars Technica.

This is a report of a recent report that lies behind an expensive paywall in the prominent scientific journal Nature.  
Most established sources of oil are seeing declines in the area of five percent annually. Given that decline, it will be extremely difficult to meet demands projected for 2030—in fact, we'd have to add the equivalent of our total current production. In a fit of understatement, the authors deem this "very unlikely to happen." 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

George Soros predicts riots, police state and class war for America

Click here to access article from Russia Today. 

It's clear from recent proposals regarding increasing taxes on the rich coming from members and representatives of the ruling One Percent that they are clearly as worried as Soros is about the threats to their rule and their beloved system of capitalism. 
Soros goes on to compare the current state of the western world with what the Soviet Union was facing as communism crumbled. Although he would think that history would have taught the globe a thing or two about noticing trends, Soros says that, despite past events providing a perfect example of what is to come, the end of an empire seems imminent.  [my emphasis]
“The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening,” adds Soros.

Arab Spring Gives Way to Military Chill

Click here to access article by Cam McGrath from IPS. 
When Egypt’s dictator was ousted during a popular uprising last February, the military leaders who assumed control of the country pledged to "protect the revolution" and ensure a swift transition to civilian rule within six months. One year later, the ruling generals appear to have hijacked the transition to preserve the military institution’s economic autonomy and secure their own political future.
The current news article regarding military rule in Egypt confirms in a superficial way what I warned about almost a year ago (see this). The brave Egyptians rid themselves of a corrupt, brutal dictator, but not the class that rules the country. Unfortunately, this military class is firmly attached to the Empire and will be much more difficult to remove. It seems to me that it will take a worldwide resolve to eliminate the root of the Empire's power--the system of capitalism--to free people everywhere from the effects of this system--wars, poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, etc.

Meanwhile, the brave Egyptians are returning to Tahrir Square by the thousands.


What the Keystone Rejection Really Reveals

Click here to access article by Andrew Nikiforuk from The Tyee (Canada). 

The article cuts through a lot of the smoke and mirrors coverage found in mainstream media to get at many of the realities of oil production. 

Unfortunately, they don't quite go far enough. The basic reality that this article implies, but does not make explicit, is that private ownership and control of fossil fuel production and consumption is the major barrier preventing any kind of sensible policies. Or, another way to put it is: the system of capitalism and rational policies in terms of energy and environment are in fundamental conflict. Hence, the only choice is to create another social-economic system, one that can produce rational policies.

The Crisis of Education in America: "How to Become a Serf"

Click here to access article by John Kozy from Global Research. 

Although the author makes  several valid points about education versus training, he completely misses the underlying condition of a class structure which makes imperative an emphasis on training. 

Since the rise of civilization some 10 to 15 thousand years ago, there never has been pure education anywhere. That is simply because along with civilization we have seen tiny ruling classes dominating nearly all societies for their class benefit. Because societies are systems, any sector that controls society will organize all elements in that society according to their interests--usually wealth and power. Education in the US, for example, has been to a considerable extent tainted by ideas that promote capitalism. (Read Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt) Hence, the argument that this author is making is basically the same as suggesting that all predators should become vegetarians.

It is not a matter of either education or training, it is a matter of freeing both education and training and all other institutions of society from rule by a small class of self-interested people. That would require a design of society that eliminates all special privileges to any group of people such as what we have now--the One Percent's private ownership and control of socially produced wealth.

It is precisely this type of politically liberal thinking which poses a major threat to real change in society. It is a sad fact that many on the left such as people who run this website simply do not understand this or they wouldn't be posting articles like this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Europe at war with Iran

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from Asia Times Online.
The name of the game in Iran will always be regime change because the perennial wet dream of Washington and the European poodles is to grab Iran's fabulous oil (12.7% of global reserves) and gas wealth. And the fact is that wealth is increasingly profiting the Asian Energy Security Grid - and not the West.
This astute author explains that European leaders' support of the Empire's embargo of Iran's oil is not only a dangerous game but a foolish game as well.

The U.S., Indonesia & the NY Times

Click here to access article by Conn M. Hallinan from NYTimes eXaminer.

This "antidote" to the US "newspaper of record" exposes the continuing NY Times coverup of the CIA engineered coup in Indonesia in 1965 that installed an anti-communist government. Although when it was happening the NY Times went out of its way to limit their coverage, now they completely omit US complicity in this monstrous human rights crime. Some refer to this censorship as an example of "sanitizing history" (See this and this). As a result very few Americans are aware of this crime committed by their government. The CIA engineered coup was part of the rollback strategy which attempted to eliminate all governments which did not subscribe to capitalism.

For a brief real history of this sordid episode, read this piece based on a British historian's investigations. For a longer exposé read Indonesia: the Second Greatest Crime of the Century by Deirdre Griswold.

Thousands in San Francisco "Occupy Wall Street West"

Click here to access article by Josh Healey from The Progressive. 
The protests were organized to coincide with the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which declared corporations to be people with the ability to make unlimited contributions to try to elect or destroy candidates. While cities around the country held demonstrations at courthouses to contest the controversial ruling, Occupy San Francisco decided to take their actions to the corporate elite themselves.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Eurasian Triple Entente: Touch Iran in a War, You Will Hear Russia and China

Click here to access article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya from Strategic Culture Foundation. 

I think this author explains much of current US policies against Syria and Iran, and the current US administration's decision to expand military bases in the Far East. The Empire will brook no opposition to its dominance in the world nor will it tolerate even independence.
With the inclusion of the Chinese, the Russian Federation and Iran are widely considered to be allies and partners. Together the Russia Federation, the People’s Republic of China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran form a barrier against the United States. The three form this through a triple alliance that is the core of a Eurasian coalition resisting Washington’s encroachment into Eurasia and America’s quest for global hegemony.
This struggle for dominance has been ongoing for the past 10 to 15 thousand years as tiny ruling classes have arisen within societies to control wealth and power for themselves. Although less than 2% of human existence, this has resulted in a period of human history characterized by extremes of living standards, crime, police oppression, wars, disease, and famine. If we wish to continue living on this planet, we simply must cease the rule by tiny minorities regardless of how they justify their rule: religion, divine right, tradition, markets and property rights, etc. 

Sheikhs fall in love with renminbi

Click here to access article by M K Bhadrakumar from Asia Times Online.

The author looks at Chinese relations with the Arab sheikhdoms and finds that the Chinese strategy of pursuing good relations with all parties while offering more direct trade using their solid currency, the renminbi, is being welcomed by Arab ruling circles that have previously been wedded to the US dollar. No doubt this is a direct challenge to US currency, and ultimately to the Empire.
Quite obviously, Persian Gulf countries are slowly, steadily probing their options in the Asia-Pacific to diversify their external relations that have been traditionally riveted to the West. With Europe in serious disarray and the US in decline and its reputation in the Middle East significantly dented, this trend is likely to become pronounced.  

US turns the page towards new wars

Click here to access article by Manlio Dinucci from Voltaire. 
The propaganda message is clear: in times of crisis, even the armed forces have to tighten their belt. Does it mean that the Pentagon disarming? Not at all: it will rationalize the use of resources to render its war machine even more efficient.
The author exposes the reality lurking behind the Empire's propaganda regarding cuts in the Pentagon's budget.

Global Corporations Have No Allegiance to US, Move Headquarters and Divisions Overseas

Click here to access article by Mark Karlin from BuzzFlash. 

We lost the "battle in Seattle" in 1999 and in many other places since then. Now we see the One Percent moving our jobs all over the world to places where they can better exploit workers and the environment. I wonder how much longer we in the 99 Percent will allow this class to continue trashing our lives and the planet. 

For a lot more data to support this trend, read this article entitled, "We're Losing Our High Technology Advantage America", which reveals that it is not only manufacturing jobs that are being lost here in the US. 

Thus, we see that with their mad pursuit of profit, the Empire's ruling capitalist classes are radically changing the world in rather complicated and dangerous ways. We can go like sheeple into the slaughter houses that are the endgames of their pursuits, or we can and must engage in efforts to change the system that gives them the power to play their deadly games. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eurocrisis is a Global Crisis

A 15:09m interview with Leo Panitch, a "distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University in Toronto." He offers an explanation of...
...the irrationality of capitalism and the enormous difficulty that states have in containing the crises that financial capitalism throws up.

Study Finds that Childhood Leukemia Rates Double Near Nuclear Power Stations

Click here to access article by John Daly from Oilprice. 
The study by the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (French Institute of Health and Medical Research, or INSERM) found a leukemia rate twice as high among children under the age of 15 living within a 3.1-mile radius of France's 19 nuclear power plants.
I will never forget my experience while applying for a social worker position at a medical facility in Nevada in 1979. While waiting for an interview, I carried on a casual conversation with someone on the staff, and at one point in the conversation, that person told me in hushed tones about the high rate of cancer patients at medical facilities in Nevada, an area where so many atomic tests had occurred. This fact almost never made it into mainstream media. 

It seems that this under-reporting is still occurring, this time in France where the nuclear industry is very prevalent. Note that this report is published in an obscure industry publication oriented toward fossil fuels.

Super Cuts! Military budget, not social spending, prompts media concern

Click here to access article by Peter Hart from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. 

The Empire's media machine, also known as mainstream media, is busy promoting spending for the weapons industry while ignoring cuts in spending on education, health, welfare, infrastructure, etc. According to them reduced spending on killing machines threatens our security and jobs.
Military analyst Winslow Wheeler (Center for Defense Information, 8/24/11) points out an annual base budget of this size—$472 billion—is $70 billion more than was spent in 2000, and would still constitute “more than twice the defense spending of China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Cuba and any other potential adversary—combined.”