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, October 13, 2012

Secret of the Seven Sisters (Shell, Exxon, BP, Mobil, Chevron, Gulf, Texaco) [updated]

Four uploaded YouTube segments of a film from a French film company are posted by Transcend Media Service. Each one is approximately 52 minutes long. They each contain a short episode detailing the origins of the Seven Sisters, but after that they proceed to tell the story of the powerful influence of these oil companies starting with Iran in 1951.  

The films will take you on a tour through time and across the world following the trail of tears left by the machinations of the Seven Sisters. They tell a horrific story of private ownership and control of oil, an energy source that could have liberated humanity from the scourges of hunger, disease, ignorance, shortened life spans, etc. Instead, we see one social, economic, and environmental disaster after another, millions of lives lost in wars, corruption and subversion of governments, etc. There seems to be no end of this story as we witness events unfold in Syria that threaten more war. After having watched all four videos, I agree with the short posting introduction that they are "must-watch" videos.

Video One - Focuses mostly on the Mid-East [now available here]

Video Two - Focuses mostly on Africa. [now available here]

Video Three - Focuses mostly on central Asia. [now available here]

Video Four - Looks at the world of oil in relation to the US. [now available here]

In several sections the films make reference to a key role played by Saudi Arabia in relation to US interests. But, for some reason the film director omitted a key event that secured Saudi Arabia's loyalty to the US Empire and secured the value of the US dollar. This was accomplished in 1974 in negotiations conducted by Kissinger with Saudi Arabia's rulers which resulted in a major agreement (now a dead link, try this) that greatly enabled the US to have its way in the world after the defeat in Vietnam.
The Vietnam War in addition to the Cold War proved very costly for the US and they had to go off the gold standard as backing for US currency. In a crucial move to insure its own currency as the prime world currency, in 1974 the US guaranteed the security of the Kingdom and, in return, the Saudis agreed to sell oil only in US dollars and to recycle those dollars into US Treasury bonds and US stocks. This effectively backed the US dollars with oil. As Michael Hudson stated:
Saudi Arabia realizes that it exists only with U.S. support. Doing what U.S. diplomats tell them to do lets them keep their oil resources rather than being treated like Iraq and Iran.
For a much more detailed explanation of the background and the effects of this agreement, check out this report by William Engdahl where he writes:
The deal had been fixed in June 1974 by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, establishing the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation. The U.S. Treasury and the New York Federal Reserve would ‘allow’ the Saudi central bank, SAMA, to buy U.S. Treasury bonds with Saudi petrodollars. In 1975 OPEC officially agreed to sell its oil only for dollars. A secret U.S. military agreement to arm Saudi Arabia was the quid pro quo.

The False Promises of “School Choice”

Click here to access article by Barbara Miner from Common Dreams.

I've noticed recently a big wave of "school choice" propaganda being broadcast over the boob-tube here in the State of Washington sponsored by people such as Bill Gates who, I think, wants to replace teachers with computers and software. There is a referendum on the state ballot to liberalize regulations on charter schools to make it easier to privatize a public school. Not being very well informed on this issue, I thought I'd look to others such as this author who has the following biography:
Barbara Miner has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the New York Times to the Milwaukee Journal. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Selling out Our Schools: Vouchers, Markets, and the Future of Public Education.
See also this, this, and this.

Res Communes – the rise of citizen-led, fair-market, alternatives to capitalism

Click here to access article by Jules Peck from Flourishing Enterprise. 

The important aspect about this article is that it illustrates that people are beginning to look for alternatives to the soul-sapping, life and planet destroying, system of capitalism.
There is reason to be optimistic. Growth long since has failed to deliver increases in life satisfaction. We need not fear the end of growth and a new post-capitalist economics. Its an exciting time to be alive – truly revolutionary things are afoot.

Nobel Peace Prize: Joke of the Century

Click here to access article by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey from Pravda (Russia).
It is fitting that the institution set up by "The merchant of Death", famous for his career as a major manufacturer of armaments, famous for inventing cordite, whose main contribution to the world was dynamite, bestows upon the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".
The Nobel Peace Prize tops all Orwellian parodies. (See also Stephen Lendman's take on the Prize.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

In Praise of Anarchy, Part II

Click here to access article by Dmitry Orlov from his blog ClubOrlov

Orlov provides a very thought provoking essay on anarchism by arguing in the tradition of Kropotkin that spontaneous cooperation (anarchy) is seen throughout nature which enables life forms to cope with different environments and threats, whereas hierarchy leads inevitably to collapse.
...when most people say “Darwinian” it turns out that they actually mean to say “Hobbesian.” Kropotkin pointed out that the term “survival of the fittest” has been misinterpreted to mean that animals compete against other animals of their own species, whereas that just happens to be the shortest path to extinction. This misinterpretation of facts directly observable from nature has led to the faulty Hobbsian justification of the economic appetite as something natural and evolved, and therefore inevitable, giving rise to the conjectured laws of the marketplace, which in turn favor nonempathic, exclusionary, brutal, possessive individualists. The result has been to enshrine mental illness—primitive, pathological, degenerate narcissism—as the ultimate evolutionary adaptation and the basis of the laws of economics. Thus, an entire edifice of economic theory has been erected atop a foundation of delusion borne of a misunderstanding of the patterns present in nature.

Preview of New Film on the History of Anarchism

Click here to access where I sourced this 26:49m video: posted by Katherine Acosta from her blog UnDisciplined PhD

France loots Africa, liquidates dissidents

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from PressTV (Iran). 

The author tells the real story of the French One Percent's plunder of Africa including details of how they have done it, and continue to do it.

UK owner of Guatemalan energy firm urged to act after protest deaths

Click here to access article by Dawn Paley in Totonicapán and Jonathan Watts from The Guardian. 

Because I am on several human rights email lists, I receive hundreds of such reports about corporate crimes against indigenous people each year. They all involve corporations based in USA, Canada, and Europe. Most reports I receive relate to incidents in Central America, but this goes on in Africa as well--probably on a much larger scale. Few such incidents ever make it into mainstream news media. Thus, citizens of the US led Empire remain mostly, and blissfully, unaware of these crimes.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stemming the Tides of Protest

Click here to access article by William T. Hathaway from The Greanville Post
The friendly mask that capitalism wore in the USA and Europe has been stripped away, revealing the predatory beast beneath. We are beginning (just beginning) to get the same treatment as workers in the client states. This process is not generated by the greed of a few individuals, nor can it be reversed by social democratic reforms and regulations. This process is inexorable because it’s the essence of capitalism. It’s the nature of the beast to devour.
Very well expressed! It's clear that bourgeois liberals are running out of convincing excuses and remedies for a system that serves only their own class. For American working people, having had their minds thoroughly indoctrinated with the virtues of capitalism most stridently since WWII, the awakening is only now beginning to take shape. However, as life for them continues its downward trajectory, they will wake up at an accelerating rate. Then we will see the gloves come off of the American capitalist class (the One Percenters) to reveal the hidden fist of fascism that will attempt to not only "stem the tides of protest", but to crush them. 

If my assessment is correct, I expect to see voter participation in the upcoming US demonstration elections lower than ever before.

3 People Now in Jail for Refusing to Talk About Other Anarchists

Click here to access article by Will Potter from Green Is the New Red

Anarchists are experiencing police oppression more than any other segment of our population. They are essentially already living in a police state, a state that we will all live in eventually if we continue to sit idly by while the One Percent continues its policies of austerity, wars, debt servitude, and police state methods.

Anarchists are being targeted because they thoroughly reject one pillar of capitalist class rule--hierarchy which makes possible the control of many by a few. In the recent past they targeted mostly socialists because they rejected another pillar supporting capitalist class rule--private ownership and control of the economy. This class rule of the One Percent requires both legs to stand on; and whenever any group threatens either of these legs, they bring down the full wrath of our class masters regardless of constitutional violations.

This piece describes three heroes who refuse to provide information on other anarchists to a ruling class institution called a "grand jury". (See also this.)
Grand juries have historically been used against radical social movements as a tool to intimidate and to gather information. When activists enter a grand jury proceeding, they check their rights at the door. They are asked about what they believe, what their friends believe, who they associate with, what kinds of activism they support. If they choose to assert their First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights by refusing to speak about their political beliefs and political associations, they can be imprisoned.

The Myths of Zionism

Click here to access article by Yazan Al-Saadi from Muftah

The author digs up little known facts, backed by many useful links, to smash Zionist myths used to establish a European colonial project in the oil rich Middle East, a "Fort Israel" that serves the Empire.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

QE3 – Pay Attention If You Are in the Real Estate Market

Click here to access article by Catherine Austin Fitts from Solari

Regardless of whether you are in the real estate market or not, this article really zeros in on the implications of the recent QE3 policy by the Fed to deal with fraudulent mortgages still carried on the accounting books of the banks. 
...the way the Fed has engineered the Slow Burn to date is to continually offset monetary inflation with labor deflation. It is worth contemplating how much labor deflation will be required to offset QE3 and how sufficient additional labor deflation might be engineered. Ben Bernanke was quite clever to tie QE3 to unemployment. The problem has become the solution, which is the basis for QE-Infinity.
She has some very useful short videos and explanations adjacent to this article which should be viewed and read to further understand the issues involved.

Can a no-growth future and capitalism be compatible?

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder

He builds an argument that in a finite world, endless growth is impossible. Thus, he concludes his essay with a question:
If stagnation is the “new normal” of capitalism, then deprivation, pain and worsening inequality is all that it can offer, save for the occasional temporary uptick — a never-ending race to the bottom. Is such a system really the best humanity can do?

Quietly, the IMF confesses that austerity does not work

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder
So why do central bankers, financiers and multi-national financial institutions still preach austerity? Ideology, surely, plus arrogance and a lack of ability to admit the wisdom of financial elites is wrong. Nonetheless, at bottom such people are carrying out their class interests.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion & Despair

Click here to access article by JimQ from Washington's Blog

This is quite an extended rant, but it is a well informed and articulated rant about what a system has done to a nation. Unfortunately, the author can't quite go that extra step to connect the growing American dystopia to a system--capitalism. 

What he and some other sensitive souls are witnessing here in the "land of the free, and the home of the brave" is the end game of capitalism in which a few "own" everything--just like in the game of Monopoly. He appears to mock those who look at this problem in system terms: only "narrow minded ideologues" do that. I think what he fails to understand is that he, too, has been subject to indoctrination by the oligarchs and their agents to avoid any questioning of the system. The author ends up blaming everyone, and this seems to me to be a far too easy way to deal with the problem.
Narrow minded ideologues want a simple answer to a complex interaction of generational, cultural, economic, political, and criminal factors that have conspired to put the country into a predicament that, at this point, will inevitably lead to economic collapse. The truth is the American people have learned to love their servitude. They have willfully chosen ignorance over truth. They’ve chosen to believe what their keepers have instructed them. They’ve chosen to trust the storylines generated by the corporate media rather than think critically and question everything. They’ve chosen obesity and sickness over health. They’ve chosen debt financed faux wealth over savings based real wealth. They’ve chosen safety and security over liberty. They’ve chosen dependency over self-reliance. These choices were aided, abetted and promoted by the Alphas through their ability to manipulate and control the unthinking masses.
But, his conclusion suggests that he does understand that society is ordered a certain way, and that it is possible, even necessary, to change it.
There will be a revolution in this country whether you like it or not. The existing social order will dissolve during the next fifteen years. What replaces it is up to us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Empire and revolution - Syria and the critics of the anti-war movement

Click here to access article by John Rees from CounterFire (UK). 

The author provides the most astute analysis of the current Syrian conflict and the subject of revolution in general that I have read for some time. 

He then takes issue with some leftists who are supportive of the anti-Syrian forces because of a simplistic view that they all represent a more democratic alternative to the Assad regime. Rees clearly sees that Western agents are attempting to use some of the anti-Assad forces in Syria to engineer another Libyan-type regime change. Thus, our correct political position must be to oppose this. 

West using terror to plunder oil resources of Nigeria

Click here to access article by Finian Cunningham from PressTV (Iran). 

The headline really should be posed as a question. The author does provide considerable evidence and arguments that suggest a deliberate Empire strategy to destabilize and divide Nigeria, but it is not conclusive. We see many familiar elements from other countries that experienced destabilization and NATO intervention: inter-religious and sectarian violence, terrorism, groups suddenly appearing well equipped with modern weapons, evidence of NATO or Western military/political secret operations, oil resources and other strong Western geopolitical interests.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Ordeal of Disobedience

Click here to access article by Mat Little from New Compass.

This is a sequel to an article published in July, "The Lure of Obedience, which I reviewed at that time. If I had only this article to interpret, I would be confused as to Little's conclusions:
Milgram’s famous experiment demonstrated the immense power of institutions, their ability to produce acts which bore no relation to the desires of the perpetrators. But this power can be turned around. Society can be organised differently. A non-obedient society, one that doesn’t degenerate into chaos, is possible. Power cannot be abolished but it can be changed.
Most importantly, if the power of institutions is not democratised, they will continue to dominate human society with baleful consequences. An attitude of vigilance and scepticism is not sufficient. Economically and ecologically, the capitalist society we inhabit requires conscious, democratic transformation. To leave it, institutionally, to its own devices is to invite disaster. [my emphasis]
After reading both articles, it appears to me that he is assuming that there is no alternative to societies organized by a capitalist system. However, he insists that we must "democratise" them--by which he means that we must build into the existing society more democratic participation in decisions. 

Of course, given his assumption, one can only arrive at his conclusion--except that his conclusion is in contradiction with a class structured society that one finds under capitalism. Any class structured society is by definition one where there is a ruling class that dominates other classes for self-serving purposes. The most cost-effective way that ruling classes have developed to control their disadvantaged sub-classes is by using a system of hierarchy. Such systems are enforced by rewards and punishments, and citizens are socialized throughout their lives to believe in the virtues of obedience. Thus, only the most independent, or least socialized, citizens are able to resist conformance to authority in such societies. The only way that capitalist societies can exist without hierarchy is through the implementation of a costly police state.

Unearthing the IFC's links to mining abuses

Click here to access article from Bretton Woods Project

This article provides details on the role that international finance played in the recent platinum mine massacre of striking workers in South Africa by police (enforcers hired by the One Percent). In this case it was the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private-public sector arm of the World Bank. Whenever you see this sort of arrangement, you can be sure that the private sector benefits at the expense of public revenues in one form or another: subsidies, tax exemptions, government grants, etc. But, of course, these arrangements are always advertised as benefiting the public. From IFC's website we see this same justification expressed as follows:
Our work in more than a 100 developing countries allows companies and financial institutions in emerging markets to create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities.
IFC’s vision is that people should have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives.
From their website we also learn that Jin-Yong Cai, a Chinese citizen, is the head of this organization. From Wikipedia we learn once again, that where big money and power are involved, we also find the fingerprints of Goldman-Sachs.
Jin-Yong Cai to serve as the new Executive Vice President and CEO of the IFC. Cai is a Chinese citizen who formerly served as a managing director for Goldman Sachs and has over 20 years of financial sector experience.
From IFC's website we are told that their participating member nations engage in a collaborative decision-making process:
Established in 1956, IFC is owned by 184 member countries, a group that collectively determines our policies. Our work in more than a 100 developing countries allows companies and financial institutions in emerging markets to create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities.
From Wikipedia, we learn that they are governed according to the capitalist version of "collective" decision-making:
The IFC is owned by its 182 member governments which pay in capital, vote on matters of policy, and approve all of its investing activities. Each member country is a shareholder of the IFC, and the percentage of each member's ownership share is determined by the amount of capital it pays into the IFC. As of 2011, the United States is the IFC's single largest shareholder with a share of 24%. Japan holds a share of 6%, while each of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom hold 5%. The IFC's share capital amounted to approximately $2.4 billion as of 30 June 2011, of which 51% is controlled by the seven largest member governments of the OECD.
With the One Percents in control of all the governments of the dominant capitalist countries, we can see how public money finances the global projects of private corporations which, in turn, benefits the Empire's One Percents.