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, February 1, 2014

Sustainability and capitalism: Can we have it all?

Click here to access article by Gary Engler from New Commune-ist Manifesto (Canada).

He gives us many reasons why capitalism is totally incompatible with sustainability and also with equality.

How Markets Will be the End of Us

Click here to access article by Ali E. Erol from CounterPunch. (You will need to scroll down to the article.)

After referencing a lot of data regarding the increasing costs of global warming related to the use of fossil fuels, he writes:
The market, of course, does not care about human death or suffering unless it negatively affects demand or market activity. But, therein lies the good news! Looking at these numbers, it is safe to assume that within this century human suffering will be so severe that it will eventually motivate the market to take action against it.
But, the catch is...it will be too late.

Schools Tussle Over Proper Training for Butlers

Click here to access article by Frances Robinson from The Wall Street Journal.

This is another contribution to my practice on Saturdays to run articles about our fellow citizens of the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) hoping that by doing this that we don't lose touch with their world and their concerns--you know, to promote understanding. It is important that we become better acquainted so that we can serve them better and make it easier for them to carry out the daily burden of making important decisions, decisions which affect whether we go off to war in foreign lands to kill their enemies, if we have jobs, if we live in a home or under a bridge, if we can afford their health care services, education, etc.

Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, by traveling with private jets, etc. We should not let that deter us. 

Today we learn from this article more about the growing career of butling that I first brought to your attention two weeks ago. Just as there are many more of us who have lost our jobs, in today's world there are more rich people and they are hiring butlers and servants (you see, it's true that "every cloud has a silver lining") to look after their every need just like the leading characters on their favor TV show, "Downton Abbey"

I know that many of us unemployed people are fascinated by this new career opportunity; but before we leap into it, we should know that there are some issues involved. This article gives us some idea of what they are so that we can make an informed decision about pursuing this career. For example, some school directors recommend adoption of the latest tech-gadgets:
Mr. Vermeulen beseeches students to be of service in a 21st-century kind of way—ready with smartphone chargers and condoms, as well as shoeshine kits and hair pomade. 
But then another highly regarded director of a butling school disagrees:
Mr. Wennekes blanches at the thought. He isn't overly impressed by technology, and he definitely doesn't condone over familiarity.

Certain indignities bother him more than others. Mr. Wennekes recalls, for instance, one student who had been taught by another school to pull the toe of a sleeping principal if he wasn't awake in time for his breakfast tray.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Problems of Eurozone, European Integration Stem From Deeply Unpopular Elite Economic, Social Policy

Click here to access article by Mark Weisbrot from Truthout.

In this piece we see another shallow attack on neoliberalist policies, this time in Europe due to the widespread effects of unemployment, the "rise of fascist parties and anti-immigrant activity [see this] in Europe or the threat of growing European disunity." The liberal critic refers to a discussion in an article published in Harper's Magazine when he argues...
...is missing something that is of central importance, which is implicit in some of James Galbraith's comments but not sufficiently spelled out. That is the neoliberal political project of the eurozone and its policy-makers, the deliberate attempt to remake Europe and move it as far as politically possible away from its prior social-democratic underpinnings.
Weisbrot's general take on this discussion is that neoliberal policies are simply a mistake or aberration which should be corrected to return Europe to its former condition.
...the same problems plague the world's other supra-national institutions, such as the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization. Until these institutions - like those of the eurozone - can be weaned from their neoliberal, anti-democratic agendas, the nation-state will indeed remain "the upper limit, not only of democracy but of political legitimacy."
Completely absent is any understanding of the tendencies of the capitalist ruling classes to constantly expand their opportunities for more profit and power regardless of the effects on populations under their control. Absent from his analysis is any understanding of post-WWII policies referred to as "social-democracy" which were designed by the capitalist ruling classes to head off the threat of more popular and radical ideas of worker control that were widespread in Europe immediately after the war.

Liberal critics serve an important function in maintaining capitalist rule. By writing such articles as this, they serve to distract people from capitalist's underlying antisocial addiction to profits and power that their system fosters and ultimately to reinforce the idea that "there is no alternative". 

An Idea Not Worth Spreading

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from his blog Raging Bull-Shit.

The author points out how one TED speaker's observations that conflicted with a core belief of capitalists was censored from TED's website. This type of censorship, of course, is very common among all gatekeepers of ideas and observations throughout our capitalist society in order to insure a well indoctrinated population that willingly serves a ruling class.

However, the author also suggests a liberal take on things when he makes this statement:
...this situation is likely to deteriorate further as the unholy alliance between our national governments, supranational organizations (such as the IMF and EU), TBTF banks and their agents in the central banks continue to execute policies geared at obliterating what remains of the West’s middle classes.

It’s a crusade that is not only unspeakably destructive, but actually makes zero economics sense, for the simple reason that it’s the middle classes that keep the slow-beating heart of the consumer economy going.
Thus, he has exposed one capitalist myth only to affirm another: the middle classes are indispensable to the running of an economy. Then he follows this with what he believes is a supporting quote from the comic George Carlin. However, I believe that Carlin was consciously talking about a capitalist economy, whereas this author seems to believe that there is no alternative to a "consumer economy", usually referred to as a capitalist economy. 

As I was taught in my sociology classes, the middle class consists of managers, highly skilled professionals and technical people. These people are truly indispensable to running a capitalist society. But their relationship to capitalists, who constitute the ruling class, is very much like the African-American concept of one type of slave relationship with the master of the house or plantation that existed in our period of slavery. There was a "house nigger" which I think metaphorically describes the middle class, and then there were "field niggers" which describes the rest of us. This distinction was clearly explained by Malcolm X who began his essay with this:
There was two kind of slaves. There was the house negro and the field negro. The house negro, they lived in the house, with master. They dressed pretty good. They ate good, cause they ate his food, what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near their master, and they loved their master, more than their master loved himself. 

When is the far-right acceptable to the West? When it's in Ukraine

Click here to access article by Neil Clark from RT's OpEdge.
The reality is that you can be as ultranationalist, as Neo-Nazi, as racist and as homophobic as you like – so long as you are opposing a government that the western elites want toppled. The extremism of Ukrainian far-right groups is therefore swept under the carpet, because such groups want Ukraine to sever its links with Russia. Yes, they’re fascists, homophobes and racists, but they’re “our kind” of fascists, homophobes and racists i.e. anti-Russian ones.
Although in my wanderings through the World Wide Web I encountered articles on Ukraine that made reference to the rise of the right-wing in that country, it really didn't register how far right the emerging Sovoda party is in Ukraine. After all, in my eyes most parties are right-wing because most are sponsored by capitalists. Clark in this article really prompted me to do a little more research, and I discovered he is absolutely correct in his observations. See this, this, this, and this. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Green Shock Doctrine

Click here to access the introduction to the series of PDF articles from the Global Justice Ecology Project.
There is a crucial and obvious need for a powerful global movement to tackle the climate crisis.  But this movement will not be based on reform. Capitalism and the markets have led us to the brink of the abyss.  They will not provide our parachute.  The system cannot be reformed.  It must be transformed. 
The latest report, Part II, argues:
Big Green NGOs are complicit in the advancement of the pro-corporate, market-obsessed, and profit-motivated Green Economy--including prominent organizations like the IUCN, CI, the Worldwide Fund for Nature, The Nature Conservancy, and Environmental Defense Fund.

Scientists condemn journal editor’s retraction of Séralini study on GM maize and Roundup

Click here to access article which is a press release issued by End Science Censorship

Here is a summary of the reported facts on which this press release is based:
  • In September 2012 Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and his team at the University of Caen, France, authored a study which found that rats fed the GM maize and/or low levels of Roundup in their diet suffered severe organ damage, particularly to the liver, kidneys and pituitary gland. Additional unexpected observations were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups. The study was published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), a science journal published by Elsevier headquartered in Amsterdam. 
  • FCT’s editor, Dr A. Wallace Hayes, retracted the paper over a year after it was published. The decision came after a nontransparent, second review by a panel of unnamed persons of unknown professional competence and with undisclosed potential conflicts of interest.
  • Just months before the retraction was announced, Dr Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto scientist, was appointed to a newly created editorial position in biotechnology at FCT. 
I think that this incident is only another illustration of a widespread phenomenon: whenever truth conflicts with the interests of capitalists, the latter will always win. This, of course, is true of every ruling class that ever existed. (Think about the early scientific discoveries of Galileo and how his findings were censored and he was persecuted by the Catholic church.) 

The major point I wish to make, and the whole point of my blog is: Why tolerate ruling classes? Given that the common practices of capitalists are to ravage the environment and workers in their mad pursuit of profits and power, and given the fact that these practices are not only threatening to contaminate the food we eat, but the very stability of our biosphere, why should we tolerate their existence? And, why should we tolerate the existence of any ruling class any longer?! Isn't it about time that humanity overcame this childish tendency to be ruled by tiny sections of their populations when it has become so dramatically clear that this tendency always harms the rest of us? Are we humans so biologically inadequate that we are unable to create a better organization of our societies? You know what happened to other species who couldn't adapt, don't you?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anything but. . .

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.
You have to give credit to mainstream economists: they’ll do anything to avoid talking about class.
Well, aren't we all middle-class? Of course, mainstream economists along with all ruling class directors avoid the obvious factor of class: this serves to hide the system's built-in exploitation of one segment, a tiny one, who feed off the labor of another, a huge one, which is expressed in this article as profits versus wages. They also want to hide the fact that in this system private "ownership" of the economy is a social construct which has created this tiny segment of "owners" and pits them against workers who are the vast majority. The charts in this article clearly confirm Warren Buffet's declaration about who is winning the class war.

Spine Language: The Activist Backbone

Click here to access article by Mickey Z. from World News Trust.

The author uses a metaphor as inspiration for us to make the right choices.
The spine symbolizes our strength, courage, being centered and uprightness. Problems with our spine indicate feelings of weakness and fear. We have lost our centeredness and emotional integrity and are feeling overburdened. 

Obama’s State of the Union address: An empty and reactionary charade

Click here to access article by Joseph Kishore from World Socialist Web Site.

The author provides the realities of our state of the union in contrast to the rhetorical version given by the ruling class's chief public relations officer.
US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday was, perhaps even more than his previous addresses, a cynical and reactionary charade. Empty rhetoric was combined with a complete disconnect from the reality confronting millions of people and an assertion of executive power.

With Arctic freezer door open, frigid air drains into USA and Eurasia, with Arctic unusually mild

Click here to access article by David Spratt from Climate Code Red.
There is evidence connecting sea-ice loss to the more severe and extreme weather patterns in Europe and North America.... 
It seems to me that climate destabilization has only just begun. As it gets dramatically worse over the coming decades, capitalist class media directors will have their hands full trying to manage the widespread concern among their subject populations. 

However, many people still are not convinced. Recently someone asked me, "If global warming is real then why is it cold?". I really tried hard to be patient with this person and explained briefly that what we are seeing is destabilization of the climate while global average temperatures keep climbing. During my explanation I noticed her rolling her eyes rather contemptuously and I realized that she had been thoroughly indoctrinated by media sources which included Fox News.  What I'd like to do is send her a link to this Daily Show segment, but she might feel that I was ridiculing her--and I might be.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

More evidence that capitalism never solves its crises

Click here to access article by Jerome Roos from Reflections on a Revolution.
...how is it that we keep being told by world leaders that “this crisis is over”, and that, every time we are fed that same nonsensical story, some other crisis comes along in another part of the globe, making a mockery out of the official narrative and a fool out of its propagandists in the mainstream media and academia?
The author draws on the insights of David Harvey to understand the current burst of the bubble in the emerging markets as another illustration of how capitalists' mad pursuit of quick profits always results in economic chaos for workers.

The Last Days of the Lilliputians

Click here to access article by William T. Hathaway from Uncommon Thought Journal.

There are many words of wisdom in this article to help us in our struggle to free ourselves from the bondage that capitalist Lilliputians have put us in. As we learn how to untie ourselves, we must beware of their tactics to keep us bound.
They will try to divide us and make us fight one another. They will offer tempting reforms and compromises that will allow them to maintain ownership. They will bribe some of our opportunistic leaders with promises of token power if they cooperate. They will jail us. They will even kill some of us. But if we persist, holding to a militant rather than a reformist course, we will eventually free ourselves of them and build a system that emphasizes the humane in humanity. This is our time, an historic battle for liberation.

States, cities hand out billions in tax abatements

Click here to access article by Nancy Hanover from World Socialist Web Site. 
To some, it may come as a surprise that the bankrupt City of Detroit and the hard-hit State of Michigan are subsidizing the Big Three automakers, the pharmaceutical industry, energy companies and virtually every large Michigan business. But a massive giveaway—“corporate welfare,” both locally and nationally—is bankrupting municipalities everywhere as shown by reports from Demos (“The Detroit Bankrupcty”), the New York Times (“United States of Subsidies”) and Good Jobs First (“Megadeals”).
Although this corporate feeding at the public trough has been going on for some time, it appears that the practice has been accelerating in recent years. I recently saw this in my own back yard when Boeing corporation was awarded all kinds of tax write-offs, subsidies, and worker givebacks to keep production in the area and to prevent the undermining of the local economy. Workers and local populations are being threatened with the destruction of their economy if they don't bend to the will of corporate giants. This recalls the old Mafia practice of extorting "protection money" from merchants.

Mont Pelerin Society A Window Into Ideological Heart Of Kochtopus Climate Denial

Click here to access article by Graham Readfearn from DeSmogBlog.
It’s known as the Kochtopus – the extensive network of think tanks, institutes, university departments, political funding arms and “grassroots” activist groups funded by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch.

...Charles Koch is a long-standing member of the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) – a global group of industrialists, academics and economists who share the “neoliberal” ideology of limiting government control.

.... From Argentina to Venezuela, the MPS directory shows almost 400 members in more than 50 countries. The Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a US-based global network of about 400 free market think tanks around the world, also has MPS members.
Readfearn does us a really good service to expose how two rich brothers through their money have reached into all areas of society and throughout the world to influence people's thinking to deny the impending climate crisis. As I have been arguing for years and I believe is obvious, capitalism and a stable climate that can support human life (and many other life forms) cannot coexist any longer. So, one of them has to go. The fact that so many capitalists choose climate denial in opposition to 95% of the world's scientists shows that they are addicted to this system. 

But now I want you to see this view of one single, but critically important issue where a few rich people have such powerful influence and apply their influence to every facet of our lives: what we think, how we think, how we relate to each other, how we behave in general, other major issues such as war and peace, our total culture. Isn't it crazy that we allow so few people to determine so much of our lives? This is precisely what happens in all class structured societies, but is most pronounced in contemporary capitalist society with all the sophisticated communication technology available to the ruling class. Isn't it about time we changed things? Especially now when faced with a climate crisis which will result in our extinction

Pete Seeger (1919-2014)

Click here to access introduction and recordings by Noel Morris 98.7WMFT (Chicago).

This posting is to commemorate a great American, a great human being, a folksinger and lifelong activist for social justice who continued to inspire me to create a better society the rest of my life. I watched him in performance and sang along with him whenever I could.  

See also this.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Like Your Hair’s On Fire

Click here to access article by James Howard Kunstler from World News Trust. 

The author sees lots of cultural metaphors surprisingly expressed in a TV series--and they ain't pretty. It's about a high school chemistry teacher who is faced with an expensive battle with lung cancer and turns to making methamphetamine to pay his medical bills.
He just has to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Which he does, simply by discarding his persona as an earnest schoolteacher and entering the ranks of illicit drugdom. Of course, the series is mostly concerned with the twists, turns, and torments of that transition, and the metaphors in that are also rich as to what America has lately become.

ISIS in Lebanon: Lebanese Army a Target

Click here to access article by Radwan Mortada posted on Al Akhbar.

In this ominous development forgive me if I see the invisible hands of the Saudi monarchy and Israeli Zionists behind this latest attempt to sow more chaos in the Middle East. 
Three prominent jihadi groups, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have now declared war on Lebanon. The three groups timed their announcements to take place on the same day.  

Secondhand Daylight

Click here to access article by Darbikrash from Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

The author covers quite a bit of ground starting with protest songs from musicians in the 1970s, through a brief history of the rise of capitalism and the rationalizations of capitalist philosophers; but he/she really reaches his/her stride in the descriptions of worker alienation and then on to the disturbing realities facing workers today:
We see the security state girding its collective loins with surveillance capability and (domestic) military firepower. They know what is coming and it is not the Muslims. It is not the invading foreign hordes. It is the disenfranchised factory worker, the déclassé intellectuals, the retirees, and the unemployed who have stepped on one too many bodies to feed their families. The petite bourgeoisie who have one too many trinkets at the expense of their integrity. A rousing, rabid crowd of dangerous souls poisoned to their very cores by an alienating system of exploitation and commodity exchange that defiles and diminishes all those who participate, willing or unwillingly.

Our New Climate and Weather: Part II

Click here to access article by Paul Beckwith (B.Eng. Engineering Physics, M.Sc. Physics, presently working on Ph.D. in climatology) from SeeMoreRocks. 

The author sees evidence that suggests our climate is in the process of destabilization.
An enormous plug of cold Arctic air is descending southward across North America with temperature anomalies 20 degrees C below normal. .... Meanwhile, in turn, almost the entire Arctic region is seeing huge positive temperature anomalies that are 20 degrees C above normal (36 degrees F above normal).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Palestinian Capitalists That Have Gone Too Far

Click here to access article by Tariq Dana from Al-Shabaka

I was astonished by the revelations of capitalist cronyism participated in by Palestinian capitalists with their counterparts in Israel and the US. This explains so much about political events and issues regarding Palestine and Israel: the giveaways in the Oslo Accords and why all the negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian government authorities are always brokered by the US. What I cannot yet figure out is how I missed such analyses up 'til now: has no one noticed what was going on there or have I failed in my search of articles?
The political and social influence of Palestinian crony capitalists and their ongoing economic normalization of Israel’s occupation should alarm all those concerned about the future of the Palestinian cause.  ...chasing after profits without regard to Palestinian fundamental rights and national aspirations.... Their mechanisms of social and political control, and their flagrant complicity in normalization projects are a structural obstacle to the anti-colonial struggle and undermine the Palestinian quest for justice.
It was particularly interesting to see the same ploys used to manage and exploit vulnerable Palestinians as are used elsewhere in the world by capitalists: NGOs and the promotion of debt for their government and individual Palestinians.

Ariel Sharon, Apartheid South Africa and mutual military interests

Click here to access article by Hennie Van Vuuren and Anine Kriegler from Daily Maverick (South Africa).

In reviewing the legacy of Ariel Sharon, few media sources have covered his important role in collaborating with the South African in military affairs to secure capitalist interests in Africa and with nuclear weapons programs. This article fills in the gaps. This collaboration clearly illustrates the common proverb which states, "birds of a feather flock together".
The military alliance between the two pariah states was largely covert, but, according to reams of correspondence between the respective defence ministries, unreservedly supportive and warm. Sharon played a key role in keeping it so, going further than most in publicly asserting South Africa’s urgent need for more and better weaponry. There was a clear sense of parallel between the struggles of the Apartheid and Israeli states, and although many Israelis were at pains to maintain their ideological distance, Sharon was not among them.