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 Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ukraine: "Go West, Young Man" (or Dr. Strangelove's Revenge)

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers from TruthOut.

The authors provide a good analysis of the games the Empire directors are playing in Ukraine which are much like the games they've played elsewhere. It seems that the Ukrainian people are between the devil (Russia) and the deep blue sea of the Empire.

But the liberal authors can only imagine one alternative which they make brief reference to: 
The alternative would be for a strong government to tax away their natural resource rents and use it to subsidize industrial revival.
This alternative, of course, ignores that the ruling capitalist class has grown so powerful and arrogant with having complete ownership of government institutions and the construction of an Empire that they no longer fear anyone. This was expressed so well by one of their leading members who acknowledged back in 2006 that "there is class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Well, they now think they've won. So, why in the world would they want to tax themselves? To paraphrase a famous quote from one great corporate sponsored president, "its the system, stupid!"

Ukraine: The Lies Of Empire And The Smokescreen of Democracy

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from his blog East by Northwest. 
John Herbst, US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, this week gave an interview to the RT television channel about current developments in Ukraine.
Herbst in this interview illustrates the thinking of our capitalist ruling class which suggests that many of them appear to be stuck in the old Cold War years of anti-Soviet hatred. But, I wonder. I'm sure that it is true of some of them, but I doubt that this is true of most of them. I think that they are just trying to resurrect all that anti-Soviet conditioning imposed on Americans during all those years and use it against their Russian capitalist competitors who refuse to follow orders from Washington. Todhunter rightfully exposes all the lies, hypocrisy, and arrogance informing Herbst's comments.
Herbst, displayed all of the arrogance associated with the ideology of US ‘exceptionalism’ in terms of that country being qualitatively different from other states, being a beacon of freedom and democracy and having the right to act in any way as and when it deems fit. He also displayed the complete contempt that people like him have for the public with his falsehoods, misleading claims, warped logic and attempts to deceive.

How International Financial Elites Change Governments to Implement Austerity

Click here to access article by Ismael Hossein-Zadeh from CounterPunch.

The author argues that what we are witnessing today is a global class war. 
...all the schemes and wars of regime change, whether by the traditional military means or by the “soft” power of the global financial juggernaut, essentially represent one thing: a disguised class war on a global level, a relentless worldwide economic war by the one percent financial-economic oligarchy against the rest of the world population.
It seems clear, as the author suggests, is that we must strengthen our ties with all the world's working people if we are going to win this war. With the system of our antagonists in the process of destroying the planet for human habitation, we have no alternative but to wage this war--our very survival is at stake.

The Efficacy of Combative Resistance

Click here to access article by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall from Dissident Voice

Up until 2002 Bramhill was a Seattle resident but was forced to flee to New Zealand to escape FBI harassment because she was supporter of Black nationalists in the Seattle area since the 1970s when Black nationalists were the main target of FBI agents. (Not only that, she like the actress Jean Seaberg were known by FBI agents to have had intimate relations with Black activists--this was the most heinous crime of all for the rabidly racist FBI. Thus, they had to be severely punished.) In this piece she discusses a recently published book entitled The Failure of Nonviolence by Peter Gelderloos which I have read. 

I think that book functions as an excellent antidote to all the "non-violent" indoctrination by ruling class media agents that has occurred over many years because the rich ruling class are afraid of us. However, I wish to emphasize one caveat. 

Combative resistance can quite easily be co-opted by ruling class agents and diverted into hooliganism whose participants offer good fodder for neo-Nazism. Capitalists have frequently used such people to save their system or to destabilize capitalist "democracies" when they feel threatened by popular movements. We have witnessed the recent use of neo-Nazis by Empire agents in Ukraine to serve Empire interests, and their use of terrorists in Syria and Libya.

Hence, I argue that a political awareness and consciousness must be developed among large sections of the population before launching actions that include combative resistance tactics, or at least, having political education as a vital component to inform such tactics. That is why I have so often argued for alternative media to counter the disinformation and indoctrination of mainstream media, and thereby raise the political consciousness of a popular resistance movement.

Science Explains Why The Rich Are Calling Everyone Nazis

Click here to access article by Jillian Berman from The Huffington Post.

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.

You may have been reading recently about the ravings of some of our rich people and have wondered if they are suffering from some mental disease. Fortunately we have a scientist that can help us understand them. His research has found that being rich often tends to isolate people and can cause several kinds of personality disorders. 
Studies by Keltner and others have shown that rich people are less likely to share money with a partner or feel empathy for starving children. They are more likely to take candy from a baby. 
So, the next time you run into such a person--of course, this is unlikely because of their isolation--I think you should go out of your way to be friendly to them. Invite them to your home or out to a local bar for drinks. I'm sure this would make them much nicer people. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

More Business As Usual with Paul Mattick

Click here to access the 24:26m video interview and transcript of this interview with Mattick posted on Global Uprisings. ( Brandon Jourdan interviews Paul Mattick)

I found this interview to be so thought provoking that I wished I had been there to participate with Mattick and Jourdan in the discussion. Unfortunately, because I overslept this morning, this is the only article that I had time to post, and my remarks will likewise be brief.

Early in the interview he sounds very pessimistic about revolutionary change as indicated here:
...this [neoliberalism as the current form of capitalism] remains the dominant structure in politics and in economics, and I think it is extremely unlikely that any political forces able to fight that are going to arise. Because in order to do that, you would have to mobilize—actually mobilize people to take direct action. And I think there is today no political structure, no political organizations, which are interested in mobilizing the kind of energy which has appeared in the global uprisings of the last five years. It would be extremely dangerous to do so. No one is going to do that.
But then later in the interview in response to Jourdan's questions, he is more hopeful after reviewing the self-organizing potential that has been manifested by people in various crises over the centuries.
...it’s clear that the existing social life is one which is stunting, which does not fulfill some aspect of human personality, which wants to live socially and do things together with other people—and that people will respond to emergency situations in which normal life simply can’t go on, whether because there was an earthquake or a fire or a war which is just hammering them to death—and that in these situations they are able to very quickly start behaving in new ways. And something which is noted by people over and over in every kind of revolutionary or uprising situation, as well as in sort of normal economic or natural disasters, [is] the capacity of people to begin to reconstruct. .... Human history is not a very cheerful affair—but one of the reasons that I think it would be wrong to just give up or be completely depressed is what does seem to be the capacity of people to engage in a very active and spontaneous way in constructing new modes of social activity.
Notice that Mattick ends the interview by arguing that there is no good alternative--we must pursue revolutionary action:
Now it seems like a weirdly old-fashioned thing to say, but that might just be because of my age, maybe now for ...for many younger people it isn’t old-fashioned anymore to say, “You really have to get rid of capitalism. Capitalism cannot deal with these problems.” Even if capitalism manages to grow again, I do not think that the economy will be able to grow at a rate which will make possible high enough employment levels to sort of afford lives to people that workers got used to in the developed countries in the 1950s and 60s and even 70s. So I think from the economic point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are very bleak, and I think from the ecological point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are catastrophic, and there simply is no possibility to get out of this without actually changing the social system.

And that means that you must end the ownership and control of the productive system on which human life depends by that minority of humans who control it, and for whom everybody else has to work if they are lucky enough to be able to do so.
Basically he says that there are two choices for especially young people today:
...you can try to do as best as you can for yourself as an individual, or you have to somehow, together with other people, fundamentally alter the existing social system. And by alter, I mean really destroy it and create a new system: a system of a radically different type, which would be based on the collective democratic control of the interaction of human beings with nature—that the economists call “production”, but which you could also call the “daily life.”
For me this recalls the first part of the famous quotation from Shakespeare which I believe applies now to humanity as a whole.
To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
After which Hamlet goes on to weigh the consequences of action or inaction.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The geopolitical dimensions of the coup in Ukraine

Click here to access article by Peter Schwarz from World Socialist Web Site.

As Schwartz makes clear, the dissolution of a system that did not permit capitalist exploitation wasn't sufficient to satisfy Empire capitalists--they wanted total subservience. That, of course, is the nature of capitalists to compete forever for dominance over everything that provides them with profits and power: private ownership of economies, commodification of labor, control of markets, and exploitation of nature.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the introduction of the capitalist market created conditions for the social wealth created by generations of workers to be plundered by a handful of oligarchs and international finance. The social gains made in the field of education, health care, culture and infrastructure were smashed and left to decline.
This was not enough, however, for the US and the major European powers.

The scorecard of NAFTA: Losses for all three countries

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

After comparing the promises of prominent neoliberals and the results of their advanced form of capitalism, Dolack reached this conclusion:
The neoliberalism that began gathering steam with the rise of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and which has intensified since, is not the handiwork of some secretive cabal, nor is it some tragic bad turn from an otherwise “rational” system. It is the natural evolution of modern capitalism and its relentless competition. “Free trade” agreements that have little to do with trade and much to do with imposing corporate wish lists in the service of ever more inequality and power imbalances is an inevitable component. [my emphasis]

How Privatization Perverts Education

Click here to access article by Paul Buchheit from Buzzflash.
There are good reasons - powerful reasons - to stop the privatization efforts before the winner-take-all free market creates a new vehicle for inequality.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ukraine’s Sickness & Europe’s Cure

Click here to access article by Eric Draitser from Boiling Frogs Post.
...with pro-EU forces taking control of the country’s economic and foreign policy, the outcome is not hard to predict: a rescue package from Europe with all the usual austerity conditions attached.

In exchange for European “aid”, Ukraine will be forced to accept the driving down of wages, significant cuts to the public sector and social services, in addition to a rise in taxes on the working class and slashing of pensions.  Moreover, the country will be compelled to accede to a liberalization program that will allow Europe to dump goods into the Ukrainian market, deregulation and the further opening up the country’s financial sector to predatory speculation and privatization. 
Two articles from RT appear to confirm what Draitser is forecasting for Ukraine, but they point more to Western banks that are, and will be, the driving force behind the neoliberal policies that Ukraine can expect from the West. 

'EU doesn't know what it's doing in Ukraine' [former British diplomat William Mallinson remarks in interview]
...Ukraine is in a far weaker position [than Greece] because the Ukrainian politicians do not have an experience of how to deal and negotiate with the European Central Bank, with the European Commission, with the Americans. So they will be in a very weak position.... Most of the people are themselves not fully aware of the economic implications of what they are doing because this is really the banks and Germany and the US trying to get as much control as they can over as much of the country as they can.
‘Ukrainians to pay extreme price for regime change through austerity’ [Professor of Political Science Jeffrey Sommers remarks in interview]
...the issue is whether or not they are going to have enough to pay their foreign bond holders. It is in the US’s interest to see that those bond holders get paid off. So my guess is that there will be an IMF-ECB standard stabilization program that will put in place the usual structural adjustment, or what is now called more fashionably austerity. And that there will be sufficient funds to pay off those foreign bond holders. But it is going to come with a rather extreme price for the people of Ukraine. 
...I see a kind of triage measure just designed to ensure that bond holders are paid off and nothing is done to develop Ukraine.

Attempts of EU, far-right opposition to set up Ukraine government collapse

Click here to access article by Alex Lantier from World Socialist Web Site. 
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton left Kiev yesterday after two days of fruitless talks attempting to bring the different opposition parties together in a government. The putsch, cynically hailed by the Western media as a struggle for democracy, is proving to be an operation to forcibly install a filthy dictatorship of imperialist finance capital.
The author goes on to provide a broader geopolitical analysis of these events in the region.

The Secret Playbook of Social Media Censors

Click here to access article from Washington's Blog.
This essay will focus one specific technique: the “Counter Reset”.

To explain the Counter Reset technique, we have to understand the concepts of “momentum” and “social proof”.
Specifically, the government spends a great deal of manpower and money to monitor which stories, memes and social movements are developing the momentum to actually pose a threat to the status quo.   

Geoengineering side effects could be potentially disastrous, research shows

Click here to access article by John Vidal from The Guardian. 
Comparison of five proposed methods shows they are ineffective, alter weather systems or could not be safely stopped
Now that economy privateers, better known as capitalist elites, have tapered off on denying the climate destabilization threat after witnessing so many extreme weather events, they are now engaging in fantasies about engineering the climate (see this, this, and this). Notice that this sort of behavior is common among all sorts of addicts. Capitalists, likewise, are addicted to the wealth and power that their system delivers to them. In this report we learn that many scientists are very concerned about many of their grandiose ideas. Of course, the liberal publication avoids any mention of who are behind such ideas and why.

It seems that many capitalist leaders, especially those in the Empire, have given up on their campaign to discredit scientific evidence of global warming and have entered a new stage in which the main objective is to normalize the discussions about saving the planet by tinkering with the global ecosystem. Yes, these people in their desperate struggle to save capitalism, the goose that lays their golden eggs, are now preparing to run experiments on the planet's ecosystem in order to save it for more consumption of car-cars, cosmetics, and Coca-Cola; and they want to instill the idea in everyone that to embark on this megalomaniac project is perfectly normal.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Coalgate: The Gateway Pacific Terminal Scandal

Click here to access article by Jay Taber from Intercontinental Cry Magazine.

In the area where I live a major issue is the construction of a major coal terminal to export coal. Indigenous people of the Northwest are leading the opposition to this project. They have a long history of destruction of their livelihoods at the hands of European settlers and are now being threatened once again with coal-related pollution that is threatening their fishing economy which is vital to their way of life. Corporation funded actions are appearing everywhere to meet this opposition to a coal terminal. Corporations are even promoting an Indian hate campaign and targeting journalists who report on their nefarious activities.
On February 5, 2014, Gateway Pacific Terminal consultant Craig Cole sent a letter to Whatcom Watch editor Richard Jehn threatening a lawsuit for publishing Robson’s January 2014 article that exposed the convergence of Peabody Coal, Pacific International Terminals, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and the Tea Party with Citizens Equal Rights Alliance as a looming threat to Lummi Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.... Cole’s threat against investigative journalists like Robson and myself might not matter to passive readers, but for those that put their lives on the line against the portentous movements in America intent on promoting interracial discord and a growing politics of fear, it matters a lot.

A Valuable Reputation

Click here to access article by Rachel Aviv from The New Yorker. 
Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, and during that time scientists around the world have expanded on his findings, suggesting that the herbicide is associated with birth defects in humans as well as in animals. The company documents show that, while Hayes was studying atrazine, Syngenta was studying him, as he had long suspected.
Although it is little reported in mainstream media, it is clear to me that scientists are increasingly coming under intimidating attacks from corporations who see their profits being impeded by the research that scientists are doing. Corporations have succeeded in infiltrating key sectors of our society--higher education, research institutes, professional organizations, and government agencies, and thus can aim a variety of weapons at scientists whose work might interfere with their pursuit of profits. Hence, many scientists shy away from doing research that conflict with industries profits; and some even sign up with corporations, serve their interests, and enjoy an easy lucrative career often by attacking scientists who are doing real, honest research. Read this piece to find out about one researcher who fought back against one corporation and the effects on his work and life.

Such reports often remind me of the early scientists such as Galileo whose work suggested that many of the Catholic Church's teachings were wrong about the Earth, and they were persecuted. Likewise it's clear that if you mess with the hierarchy in the Church of Capitalism, you will be persecuted, ostracized, and excommunicated.  

The worst cases involve scientists who have published research that links fossil fuels with climate destabilization. In the eyes of this Capitalist Church, they have committed the worst sin of all by suggesting that the primary fuel for their engine of perpetual growth must be severely restricted in order to avert climate catastrophes.

Poland as the ‘Slavic Turkey’ of NATO Destabilization

Click here to access article by Andrew Korybko from VoltaireNet.

...the ‘Lead from Behind’ strategy has been defined as “discreet U.S. military assistance with [others] doing the trumpeting”. It is the new strategy of warfare for theaters where the US, for whatever reasons, is reluctant to directly militarily engage itself. It relies on using regional allies/’leaders’ as proxies to further US geostrategic and geopolitical goals via asymmetrical measures while Washington pivots to Asia, where it aims to present a conventional deterrent to China. Both Poland and Turkey are the US’ puppets of choice.... 

For more details on how this form of subversion is being implemented, read another article entitled "Neo-Nazi criminal state looming in the centre of Europe" from Oriental Review

Of course, the problems with ruling classes in both Syria and Ukraine have provided fertile grounds for such subversive adventures on the part of the Empire.

Monday, February 24, 2014

US non-interferences in the affairs of Ukraine and Venezuela

Click here to access article by As'ad AbuKhalil from Al Akhbar.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." You thought along with most other people that the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union would usher in an era of peace. Of course, the Soviet Union posed a deeper threat to capitalist elites because it offered another form of a ruling class which did not permit direct private ownership of the economy. However, as you can see, the Cold War was much more about dominance between ruling classes. 

Now what we are seeing is the winner of that contest becoming even much more aggressive in pursuit of world domination. This writer suggests in the last paragraph that the US Empire may be overreaching in its latest subversive actions in Ukraine and Venezuela. I go even further: I think that this aggressiveness is creating a very dangerous world. 

Such contests continue to threaten humanity with never-ending wars, even nuclear annihilation. As long as human beings permit ruling classes to exist, we will never rid the world of these threats. And, with nuclear weapons that now exist in many parts of the world, it seems to me that the threat of a nuclear holocaust grows ever worse.

Will NATO annex Ukraine?

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from RT.

Escobar provides us with a realpolitik analysis in his usual style loaded with sarcasm and cynicism. 

Exxon CEO comes out against fracking project because it will affect his property values

Click here to access article by Rebecca Leber from Climate Progress

This piece belongs in the "not in my backyard" category.
When he is acting as Exxon CEO, not a homeowner, Tillerson has lashed out at fracking critics and proponents of regulation. “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012. 
This is another illustration of how capitalism works. People employed by private, profit-making enterprises or indirectly through capitalist ruling class controlled government organizations must act in the interests of the ruling class and their system. Otherwise decent, moral people are forced to comply with these interests if they are going to enjoy at least a decent standard of living. Of course, weak, sociopathic people will easily succumb to these pressures, and Tillerson appears to be one of these people. This is why the ruling class and their beloved system has endured as long as it has.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Posted articles on the fluid and dangerous situation in Ukraine

Click here to access article entitled 'Ukrainian “Parliament” drops Mask, reveals Fascist Nature' from nsnbc int.

Click here to access numerous articles posted on Euronews.

Click here to access article entitled "Ukraine: Move To Replace The President Is Illegal" by Bernhard from his blog Moon of Alabama.

Click here to access article entitled "Ukrainian regime bows to pressure from Washington, EU and far-right opposition" from World Socialist Web Site.

An anarchist perspective on the protests in Venezuela

Click here to access article by Rafael Uzc√°tegui from Reflections on a Revolution. 
Lacking clear political content, the Venezuelan protests are at the same time capitalized upon by the right and violently repressed by the government.
Due to power and especially cable outages, my posts are late today. I expect to post at least one more article later.

The Witch Hunt For Activists

Click here to access article by Rivera Sun from Popular Resistance.

Ruling class media agents love to brand and tarnish anyone who questions the actions of their enforcement agencies, ranging from local police forces to the CIA, of nefarious and illegitimate conduct with the devastating judgement of being "conspiracy theorists". Such a judgement is intended to discredit and banish such critics from polite society forevermore. 

Fortunately, over the years many reports of such conduct has been credibly reported in alternative media and occasionally gets some limited attention in mainstream media. The report from Barcelona, Spain is one such report.
Cops need criminals. Otherwise, there’s no reason for police to exist. Likewise, counter-terrorism agencies need terrorists to justify the billions of taxpayer dollars the U.S. Government spends preventing their attacks.

There’s just one problem. Terrorists are relatively rare.
There is nothing like terrorist incidents to stir a slumbering, peace-loving population to give up their civil liberties and endure all kinds of social disasters to gain the protection of ruling class agencies from these terrorists, even in some cases be transformed into bloodthirsty killers who are willing to to interrupt their lives to go off to foreign lands and kill "terrorists". So, how do ruling class enforcement agencies cope with such a situation? Read the report and find out how these agencies secretly conspire to deceive ordinary people.

California's severe drought exposes civilization's thin veneer

Click here to access article by David Horsey from Los Angeles Times.
The severe drought in California and much of the West is a reminder that civilized life is a paper-thin veneer that overlays the deep upheavals of nature. Humans carry on blithely, holding fast to the illusion that the natural world can be tamed and exploited with no unavoidable consequences. Then we get slammed by a hurricane, a flood, a tornado, a wildfire, a drought or a freezing polar vortex that lets us know how wrong we are.
Yet, after each disaster, we forget again -- which is the reason so few of us give any sustained attention to the climate change peril. It is similar to the way we think about death. We know it’s coming, but we would drive ourselves crazy if we thought about it all the time. As a result, we revert to living in the moment or counting on promises of heaven. 
Well, obviously there is another reason: climate crisis denial throughout corporate media. Just like they denied for many decades the relationship between asbestos and lung diseases of miners and construction workers and the relationship of tobacco smoking and lung cancer, so now they have cranked up their megaphones to cast doubt about climate denial. Why? Because the impending climate crises are putting an end to their addiction to wealth and power delivered by their beloved capitalist system, and like all addicts they deny that their habit causes any harm.

Although more recently there has been some improvement in media coverage of the climate crisis, but they continue to project timelines for the crisis way out into the future, and promote and promise all kinds of crazy ideas about technical fixes, mostly geoengineering fixes (see this and this). If you have ever lived with an alcoholic you will recognize all the symptoms of denial and resort to fantasies that corporate media has exhibited.