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, September 20, 2014
The one hour and 17 minute video ties together all the many crises that humans face today including, but not limited to, climate destabilization, never-ending wars, terrorism, austerity policies, and growing inequality as stemming from the dysfunctional system of capitalism. To be absolutely clear, I don't mean a certain kind of capitalism with the implication that there is a good kind--I mean the dynamic, evolutionary system of concentrated private ownership of economies that is presently engulfing and mauling the entire world. The film has been produced according to the highest professional quality standards of the film industry. And, more importantly, Ahmed brilliantly weaves together evidence and arguments to show how the various crises have most of their origins in the system of capitalism.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, who wrote the script and narrated it, is the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Development in Britain, an investigative journalist, author, and environmental writer for The Guardian. The script is based on his 2011 book with a similar title, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization. The film was also released in 2011 and initially shown at several international film festivals. Now in September of 2014 is the first time I have heard of it, and apparently the first time that this British blogger living in Barcelona has heard of it. I ask myself, "why is that?".
Well, I have my suspicions, suspicions that are solidly based on a long history of similar experiences while living in the center of the world's dominant capitalist empire. It is because the ideas advanced by Ahmed in this book and film are very threatening to capitalist ruling classes. Thus, I deduce that the main directors of these ruling classes went to work right away to prevent the wide circulation of both the book and film among the people by insuring that these products never received any reviews or recognition in mainstream media. (I am very curious as to exactly how they manage this type of censorship. I wish that there were renegade whistle-blowers within mainstream media circles who would report on this subject.)
In contrast to the lack of reporting about this film and book, notice the wide advanced reception given to Naomi Klein's new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate in the Empire's liberal media (see this, this, and in The Guardian!). Ahmed's own book apparently was not regarded by The Guardian as being sufficiently worthy to be reviewed even though he is featured as their environmental writer. I noticed also that one couldn't purchase the DVD of Ahmed's film from a US source such as Amazon, but you could purchase it from Amazon's British website, and have it shipped from Britain!
For further discussion of this phenomenon of capitalists' methods of censorship, see my other posting of today.
I have to admit that I was very excited earlier this summer to learn of Klein's new book by the above title. Most critics of culture and politics avoid using the term "capitalism", and hence my excitement that one prominent as Klein was going to point a finger at this system. I then pre-ordered the book which I expect to receive today. However, after reading this quite extensive excerpt, I am very discouraged. I really should know better than to be deluded by liberals such as Klein. Permit me to digress a bit to explain how many left-liberals function before I launch into a criticism of Klein's treatment of capitalism.
You see, the left-liberal spectrum in the US consists of people who for various reasons refuse to cross "red lines" drawn by the directors of ruling class media. The red lines consist of questioning the authenticity of ruling class media coverage about events such as the many assassinations (the Kennedys, Martin Luther King, etc), 9/11, the Boston Bombing, and now the sudden appearance of ISIS. Such people range from academics like Noam Chomsky who I believe respects these red lines in order to have opportunities to speak on various campuses and be published in left-liberal media outlets. Regarding others, there is much reason to believe that they receive funding from ruling class sources via non-profit foundations to respect such red lines. This I believe to be true of Democracy Now!.
Democracy Now! has been cited as one media outlet among many that have received ruling class foundation money as reported by Edward Ulrich in his article "Media Outlets Such as 'Democracy Now!' are Establishment Controlled News Sources". Stuart Bramhall and others have reported on the history of the CIA and other government agencies infiltrating news organizations to disseminate false information up until Church Committee investigations in 1975, after which foundations took over to launder such funding in order to influence alternative media that might pose too critical a threat to media coverage controlled by the ruling One Percent.
This type of non-profit funding mainly functions to limit what left media outlets cover and how they cover controversial topics. This would explain why the popular left-wing media program "Democracy Now!" has always refused to interview knowledgeable people about evidence that puts in doubt the official reports about 9/11, the Boston Bombing, and other terrorist incidents.
Okay, now back to Naomi Klein and her provocative title of her new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Based on the extensive quote in this post, I am led to the conclusion that she is functioning in a "damage control" mode. I believe that she is doing so because there are increasing numbers of left critics who are questioning the system of capitalism and examining its weaknesses. I think this is especially true due to the glaring fact of growing inequality pointed out by such well-established academic people as Thomas Piketty in his widely reviewed and commented-on book Capital in the Twenty-First Century.
It's clear from my reading of the extensive excerpt that she wants to divert attention away from the way capitalism actually functions to the much safer and narrower ground of "deregulated" capitalism. Hence, it encourages people to look only at the system in terms of its not functioning properly, and therefore to promote (futile) efforts to reform it and make it work properly. Read the article and see how often she refers to "deregulated capitalism". I counted four. And, of course, the timing of the release of book is perfect coming just before the expected huge protests at the People’s Climate March in New York City and across the globe that are expected to point fingers at capitalism.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Shale Fracking Is a “Ponzi Scheme” … “This Decade’s Version of The Dotcom Bubble” … “A Lot In Common With the Subprime Mortgage Market Just Before It Melted Down”
This blogger assembles a lot of documentation to show that energy extraction is now requiring increasing levels of debt, and compares this to a Ponzi scheme. While there are similarities with a Ponzi scheme, this analogy serves to hide a much bigger dilemma that is faced by global capitalist elites as they come up against resource, particularly energy, limits of the planet.
It is much more revealing to see the capitalism system itself as a Ponzi scheme. This is so because capitalism is a system serving individual or, more importantly in our era, collective owners (corporations) of economic property that are seeking a profit from their operations (income over and above costs). Because energy extraction is growing far more expensive as older, cheaper fields have become exhausted, energy corporations have had to invest in far costlier operations to keep up with the energy demands of a capitalist economy that requires growth.
The new, much vaunted shale-fracking operations to derive energy are proving to be expensive due to rapid depletion rates of such sites. The privately owned financial system inherent in the system of capitalism also seeks a profit through loans to corporations. Corporations must produce a profit to include sufficient income to pay off the loans plus interest charges to banks. Thus, they must always continue to grow or die, or merge with other corporation as we see today in mega-corporations that are global in scale. And, course along with growth comes power to force governments to serve their interests.
What has enabled the rapid rise of economic activity in the last one hundred years has been the abundance of cheap energy in the form of fossil fuels. However, cheap energy is no longer available and there appears to be no viable alternatives in sight to feed the voracious appetite demanded by a system that requires constant growth. What has been keeping the capitalist system going is increasing debts, that is, cheap money supplied by large financial institutions such as privately owned central banks which create money from debt that future generations of entire countries will be required to pay back. Thus, we can only expect more economic crises and more wars in our future under capitalism. This new reality is best explained by a 11:46 minute video presentation by Roger Boyd.
I think that this reality is what has been the driving force behind austerity policies domestically and the aggressive actions abroad by the dominant capitalist entity, the US-led Empire, that we have been witnessing since the end of the Cold War when everyone expected peace to reign.
Climate Change is not just an "inconvenience" to be resolved by plugging into some other currency of extraction ("sustainable, green and renewable" energy). It is the defining context of our lives and of this time in the history of life on earth.
To lessen the damages, push back the tides, and save what remains, including our own little skins, will require no small measure of change. No little tweakish reform here or there, a little money trickling down from the 1 percent over there, a green job for him and a solar panel for her will get us close to where we need to go. It will demand system change of a sort we can barely yet imagine.
Naomi Klein's new book This Changes Everything articulates the situation simply and artfully: "the problem is not carbon, it is capitalism."
Thursday, September 18, 2014
With serial beheadings failing to raise Western public support necessary for an expedient intervention in Syria, more insidious provocations appear to be in the works.
The U.S. Has Already Completed Regime Change In Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Iraq (Twice), Afghanistan (Twice), Turkey, Libya and Other Oil-Rich Countries
The well documented history that this blogger has dug up shows that the use of ISIS by the Empire conforms to much of Western history in which we find many examples of the old strategy of "divide and conquer" to gain and keep control over this resource rich region. As the blogger stated in a post this summer on the same subject:
The Western powers agreed 100 years ago to arbitrarily divvy up the Middle East, without regard for historical boundaries.On the same subject, I couldn't help but notice that Greenwald's new website, The Intercept, has been running articles on ISIS (see this, this, and this) which completely ignores the evidence revealed by many astute bloggers supporting a theory that this terrorist group has been created and promoted by members of the US-led Empire. Instead they stick to the Empire's media script that ISIS just suddenly appeared well equipped and trained militarily with social media expertise out of nowhere! This raises the question in my mind that Greenwald and associates may be running a "gatekeeping" operation. (See also this, this, and this.) They may be receiving funding to keep them from crossing an ideological red line that would expose one of the latest dark secrets of the Empire--their funding and promotion of ISIS. (See also this for an in-depth examination of the issue of gatekeeping.)
Neoconservatives in the U.S. and Israel have long advocated for the balkanization of Syria into smaller regions based on ethnicity and religion.
The goal was to break up the country, and to do away with the sovereignty of Syria as a separate nation. (The same goal has long applied to Iraq and other Arab states as well.)
I watched one of the PBS segments on the Roosevelts recently with dismay, although not with surprise. It was another piece of ruling class history presented to the American public by one of the prime ideological organs of today's ruling class. As such it provides a good illustration of how history is taught to students in US education. This program series, as well as the teaching of history in general, is designed to do one thing: to indoctrinate Americans in the belief that the ancestors of our ruling class should be revered as near godlike figures to provide cover for all the crimes they committed on behalf of themselves and their class.
Kimberley provides a much needed antidote to this type of brainwashing. I have only one complaint: I think she should have provided more links to accurate portrayals of American history.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
This article is, in my opinion, not important for the conclusion it draws in support of the devolution of nation-states into smaller ones, such as Catalonia or Scotland (the separation of these regions into nation-states will have little benefit to their citizens in a globalized neoliberal world); rather the author provides within his argument some blockbuster revelations that can serve to inform an accurate understanding of power in today's world. If I am correct, then it is necessary that we study and understand them to enable us to wrest control from capitalist elites who currently rule the world (of humans) and are driving it toward the cliffs of a nuclear holocaust and climate destabilization.
His argument in favor of devolution is frequently espoused by capitalist ideologists ranging from liberal (Sen. Bernie Sanders) to libertarian views (Ron and Rand Paul). They want to re-establish an earlier stage of capitalist development which they tend to idealize either as providing social safety nets for workers (the former) or providing many opportunities for small businessmen (the latter). This is simply not possible. Also, I think that a lot of the strident opposition emanating from Spain and Britain is because of the fact that some influential members of the Empire will lose influence due to the reduction of their fiefdoms within the Empire.
Capitalism is a dynamic process that goes through many stages until in reaches a concentration of wealth/power that characterizes what we see today. It is very much like a cancer in that it starts to feed on a small body part until it reaches a level of power that starts spreading (metastasizing) to all other parts. And, you know the end of this development.
Okay, so you ask: what are these all important revelations referred to above? Most important of all is his citation of a global power study in his link "explosive 2011 Swiss study"; but also to the quoted writings of one of the Empire's chief ideological exponents, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who really understands (and approves) where capitalism is leading societies, and to allegations by a former insider at the World Bank, Karen Hudes.
The Swiss study attempts empirically to unravel the very complex world of capitalist power as exercised by the US-led Empire and therefore requires some level of social research training to fully understand it. Having just perused it, I do not fully understand it, but I understand enough to realize that it is worth much more study.
The basic concept used to measure power by the researchers was "ownership", a key component of capitalism which can be ascertained by share ownership in economic entities. Using this component they found networks of power, in which a core network consisting of well-known financial institutions the owners of which possess a very high degree of concentrated control over world affairs. This important conclusion lends support to the intuitive understandings of many critics of power in today's world.
I don't think that political protests, by themselves, have ever conclusively proven that they can stop the ruling capitalist class from doing what they want to do--enhance profit and power opportunities for their class. Appealing to hard-core members who make up the real decision-makers of capitalist classes that are limited to moral or rational arguments will accomplish nothing. That is because these people are thoroughly addicted to the drugs of power and wealth which their system of capitalism delivers to them.
It will now take a global effort by the rest of humanity to save themselves from these drugged-out, suicidal ruling classes. Protests can be a part of this effort by raising consciousness among the world's Ninety-Nine Percent about the dreadful consequences of resigning ourselves to further capitalist mauling of our planet, and thereby promote grassroots actions to overthrow the rule of capitalist elites and replace their suicidal system with a sustainable system.
(In addition to arguments and links presented by Fillmore against capitalists' favorite method of carbon pricing to pretend they are dealing effectively with climate destabilization, I recommend additional sources such as this, this, and this.)
Lindorff compares the two nations' responses to the ebola crisis in Africa, and suspects that the directors of the Empire see only an opportunity to gain a large foothold in resource-rich Africa.
Anyone who thinks this dispatching of US military personnel to Africa is about combating a plague is living in a fantasy world. This is about projecting US military power further into Africa, which has already been a goal of the Obama administration, anxious to prevent China from gaining control over African mineral resources, and to control them for US exploitation.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Boyd, who has had a long career in the financial industry, is one of the exceptional actors in the capitalist system who refuses to stick his head in the sand. He sees what lies ahead as humans come up against the finite limits of this planet. Unfortunately, his views are severely constrained by his experience and education in institutions which have been thoroughly infused with capitalist ideology.
It's unclear whether he is unaware that the problems we are facing today are system based, or if he believes that there is no alternative. We will never know because there is no mention of an economic system in this article. Thus, he offers no solution other than giving some advice to individual "investors" about how best to protect themselves. And, he seems completely unaware of the other threat--climate destabilization. There is no safe passage between the Scylla of disappearing cheap energy and the Charybdis of climate destabilization that we are facing today. If one doesn't destroy us through nuclear wars, the other will through catastrophic climate destabilization.
This is the sort of dreadful thinking that will lead humanity over the cliff to its extinction if the rest of us in the Ninety-Nine Percent refuse for whatever reason to take control and create a sustainable system.
Yellen comes up with what may become a capitalist class slogan issued to pacify the Ninety-Nine percent in the 21st century. Could this be a replacement for "let them eat cake" used by the earlier ruling class of the monarchy-aristocracy?
One week before world leaders gather here for their Climate Summit, Friends of the Earth International warned that the September 23 ‘talk shop’ will only see leaders fiddling with flimsy pledges instead of committing to binding carbon reductions.Unfortunately for any real change to occur, people must understand the co-relationship between the threat of climate destabilization and the growth-required system of capitalism. The people at both Climate Connections and Friends of the Earth apparently do not understand this.
This past August was the warmest since records began in 1881, according to new data released by NASA. The latest readings continue a series of record or near-record breaking months. May of this year was also the warmest in recorded history.We humans are now reading about a regular occurrence--the breaking of heat records across the world.
Here in the Seattle area TV weathermen also report on these records, but never in the context of climate destabilization. Often such new records are presented like record smashing in various sports: as something to be celebrated. Such reporting panders to a very narrow view of weather in the Seattle area where temperatures have often been cooler than what is desired. For example, on Aug. 31st we were subject to this type of reporting.
It's a far cry from the record hottest August (83.7 degrees in 1967) but then again, second place was 80.3 so all years are a far cry from 1967.
So individually, the months were pretty impressive, but combined, it's even more so.
Monday, September 15, 2014
...while there’s no doubt that many Americans will be confused by Obama’s misleading focus on the terrorist organization named ISIL [aka ISIS, IS] the real purpose of the speech was to garner support for another decade of homicidal conflicts in the Middle East. The administration is as determined as ever to plunge the region into chaos, erase existing borders, and install its puppets wherever it can.
Ayoub provides many reports that surfaced in various media to support his argument that this "monster...grew in plain sight of Washington and Riyadh".
Although "Bandar Bush" has a long history of mischief in the Middle East on behalf of the Empire, he conveniently dropped out of media sight when he was removed officially from head of Saudi intelligence earlier this year. It seems from this report that the shifty Bandar was off on another assignment for the Empire.
Of course, it's only a very brief, superficial report, but it seems that even US corporate media feels it necessary to acknowledge some version of reality occasionally.
This son and grandson of Brooklyn, NY City longshoremen has awakened and urges his fellow Americans to wake up.
Farruggio now understands a lot about reality, but he still has a way to go. He doesn't yet identify the problem in terms of a system--capitalism. Instead, he identifies an advanced symptom of the system--militarism and expansion (imperialism).
Using an embedded media, the "Two Party, One Party" political system (created by our Military Industrial Empire) keeps chugging along. Whether it is a Reagan or Clinton, a Bush or a Kerry, a Romney or an Obama, it matters not to the puppeteers who run things. They choose who the so called "field of candidates" will be, and then most of the time let the suckers (we voters) make the final decision from Column A or Column B.
This piece provides an illustration of the military-industrial complex in action. But, it also provides an illustration of the way liberals react in a limited form to government actions that don't conform to prevailing myths about the rule of law and representative government.
Although this liberal source doesn't like the strong ties between the "peoples" representatives and weapons contractors, they carefully limit their criticism by describing the latest planned aggressions in Iraq and Syria as "debatable", and whine about Obama not complying with the constitutional power of Congress to declare war--as if this hasn't already been established as legitimate by precedents from a long history of US engagement in wars without a formal declaration by Congress ever since the Korean War. The shadow government simply relies on members of Congress to approve military spending in support of wars after they make the decision to go to war, thereby avoiding any debate about engaging in military actions.
...what you won’t learn from media coverage of ISIS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.
We first learned about CIA surveillance of Senate members in the mainstream media from Sen. Diane Feinstein (California) who is chairman of a committee (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) that supposedly supervises on behalf of American people what our intelligence services are doing. It seems that some members of Congress became seriously concerned about government spying on citizens only when they were spied on.
In this piece (the conservative Washington Times provides even more strident coverage of this incident) we learn about a closed door hearing in which this Senate committee exercised their official mandate by questioning John Brennan, the Director of the CIA. From comments following the hearing, it appears that Brennan essentially told them to "stuff it". If some Senate members didn't know before who really runs this country, they know it now. Some will grumble and complain, but they'll soon cooperate or else they will lose their jobs. Others will grumble and threaten the CIA to the national audience in order to maintain the myths about the rule of law and representative government.
The author very recently returned from a vacation in Mexico where he noticed some rather startling changes--no, not in the reality of Mexican life, but in perception management not only by Mexican media, but coverage by important capitalist media of the Empire.
...it’s not just the government-friendly Mexican media that can’t get enough of Peña Nieto’s reformist agenda. Just about every international media outlet of note is on board, including the FT, El País, The Economist and Time Magazine. At times the coverage is shamelessly, almost embarrassingly gushing. As Daniel Hernandez points out in Vice Magazine, some portions of a piece published in a December 2013 issue of Time sound strikingly similar to a paid advertorial about Mexico.He offers some reasons for this development, but I think he only hints at the broader strategic reasons: Empire capitalists are interested in countering BRIC capitalists (especially Chinese) from seriously competing with them.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
In this article the blogger does an excellent job of digging up new information from a primary source about the latest official terrorist confronting the Empire. It furnishes more evidence that such terrorist groups function, intentionally or not, to support the interests of the Empire and its Mid-East fortress known as Israel.
To get a glimpse of the kind of thinking that is prevalent in the region, and prevalent even among fellow jihadis, about ISIS, I strongly suggest that you look at the remarkable interview with Nabeel Naiem on Syria News below. (Bear with the rocky translation from Syria News.) I don’t endorse his theories about ISIS, or anything else he says, but if you’re interested in the dynamics of jihadism and jihadi thinking in the region, and of how even the most militant Islamists detest ISIS, you’re unlikely to find anything like it.
I have been wondering about the kinds of appeal inducing people joining up with ISIS and outfits like them. This blogger suggests some themes that might attract such people, and to possible reasons for US ambivalent relations to ISIS. Much food for thought.
After further thinking about that I believe that Peter is right. ISIS, the group now claiming a Caliphate, might have had roots in some sectarian scheme the CIA and the U.S. Special Forces were running in Iraq. But it has by now far exceed that realm. The Caliphate is based on original Wahhabi ideas which were in their essence also anti-colonial and at first directed against the Ottoman rulers.
Henningsen joins many others in exposing the latest lies by the Empire's leading public relations officer, Barak Obama, whose fake explanations of the latest campaign against Syria correspond with his fake title as "President" of the US.
It is clear why he was appointed by the directors of the Empire to function in this role. First of all, he performs brilliantly. Then, with his African-American characteristics he eliminates criticism from liberals who don't want to appear racist by criticizing an African-American appearing person.
I've noticed this locally in my university town in which many auto bumper-stickers formerly attacked Bush Jr. for his actions when he was "President". Similar bumper-stickers have almost entirely disappeared even though the current Empire's front man, Obama, is represented as pursuing the same policies as Bush in the Empire's media. If this sounds similar to the ploy of pro-Israel advocates' use of "anti-semitism" against any critics of Israeli apartheid and genocide policies, it is because it is precisely the same method--but now used to ward off criticism of Empire policies by liberals.
The Martens have an exceptional ability to criticize the way the official government functions to serve the rich, however they seem unable to understand the fake nature of the way power is actually exercised in the US in contrast to the way its ideological institutions portray it which they apparently accept.
In this article they refer to a Wall Street Journal report of a phone call by Obama to Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan bank, to express their shock and disbelief over this phone call and other official government actions.
Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to make sure we are not sleepwalking in a Dickensian dream.There have been thousands of such incidents in recent history, which if added up, can only point to a more realistic understanding of who works for whom. Obama, as the Empire's Chief of Public Relations (CPR), actually works for Jamie Dimon who likely functions as a director of the Empire. That explains why Obama calls Jamie Dimon to wish him well. It is the same as any employee "sucking up" to his boss. The fact that JP Morgan is paying a fine is only to maintain the myths about a legitimate rule of law existing in the US. JP Morgan has been a huge beneficiary of essentially no-cost loans from the Fed.
Petras provides an excellent summary of events leading to the Ukraine crisis to counter the lies spread in the Empire's media. He then concludes the essay by citing the real reason behind the Empire's actions in Ukraine.
An independent Russia is the real target and the annexation of the Ukraine is a mere stepping stone on the way to Moscow. Under this strategic (and insane) vision, the US and EU will never accept a neutral (NATO-free), independent, democratic Ukraine.
"There will be no going back from the climate chaos if we do not fight for real solutions and do nothing to confront and challenge the inaction of our governments’ policy-making being hijacked by polluting corporations,".... "It is crucial for us to unify and strengthen our economic, social and environmental struggles and focus our energies on changing the capitalist system."