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, October 25, 2014
It appears that Empire directors cannot stop beating up on Gary Webb who was hot on their trail of importing drugs into US urban areas in exchange for funds to support Contra terrorism against the Sandinista government. Apparently, it wasn't enough to destroy his career as an honest, investigative journalist, and probably his life which was reported as a suicide. In this piece Parry castigates a Washington Post "journalist" for continuing the attacks on Webb, and tears apart the latter's journalistic standards.
In so doing, Parry also reveals that there are two kinds of journalists in the US: those who serve the ruling class and those who report the truth. It seems that the latter are a diminishing species as a result of ruling class agents like the former who attack those who seek the truth and report it. Controlling what information is reported in mainstream media plays a vital role in maintaining the power of our capitalist ruling class and public support for their crimes against humanity.
With the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall approaching in November, we find some articles written by people on the left questioning how the fall of self-identified socialist regimes happened. They began with so much idealism and promise for better, more fulfilling lives in a peaceful world, but ended up on the scrapheap of history as people under their regimes seem to have easily fallen for the propaganda of Western consumer values.
Grossman who left the US long ago as a harassed political refugee and fled to East Germany, is one such person who wonders how this could have happened. Here are some of his conclusions:
...the GDR had to compete with one of the world’s most prosperous economies, West Germany. It was never able to match the swift innovation pace of competing corporations whose ups and downs may have cost many tears in lost jobs and ruined plans but meant a constant stream of chic, modern products – above all good cars. Like people elsewhere, GDR citizens thrilled at enticing advertising. .... Envy was widespread. It was worsened by often old-fashioned tastes of the men ruling the roost – and rule it they did, almost to the end.Other people merely complain of disillusionment as we find in this article entitled "Freest Under Czech Communism! Former Czech Dissident, Now Against the West". But what seems to be missing altogether in these reviews of history is any discussion about what these "socialist" failures imply for future revolutionary attempts to create much better social-economic systems and societies.
I think most of those aging anti-fascists retained their original hopes, their ideals based on socialism. But as they grew older, accustomed to central rule and constantly flattered by the careerist Yes-men who always gather where power and perks are found, they increasingly lost touch with much of the population. Many freedoms were indeed curtailed, worst of all for the media which were, when political, dull, rigid, one-sided and self-laudatory.
With many nations armed with nuclear weapons, with capitalist regimes pursuing aggressive actions for world domination, and with impending destruction of our human habit caused by the relentless pursuit of more profit and power by capitalist gangs, this search for a better alternative is more urgent than ever before. Have we given up? Are we passively arriving at the end of (human) history, not the phony one promoted by Fujiyama, but the end of the human race?
In addition to those who gave up looking for a job in our 2008 post-crash economy, this new growing proletariat may be a contributing factor to the declining unemployment statistics that are issued by the government of the ruling capitalist class and celebrated by their media.
America’s new proletariat workforce goes by a lot of different terms – freelance, independent, temp, part-timer, contractor, contingent worker and the under-employed. ....
These workers share many of the same conditions: no employer-sponsored health insurance, 401Ks or FLEX accounts; no Social Security employee contribution or unemployment compensation; no sick or vacation pay; no chance to join a union or move up the corporate ladder. They do share the one attributed that Marx identified 150 years ago: These proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.Unfortunately, this liberal writer concludes his report by holding out a fake carrot of hope in the form of promising court actions on behalf of workers.
This is an excellent parody of corporate attempts to gain control over all life forms using capitalist property rights of "ownership".
Should have learned by now but how were you supposed to know you should always read the fine print on your cereal box.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Hathaway explains how our masters who "own" the economy (supported by our labor) use patriotism or nationalism which are rooted in patriarchy to control our minds so that we keep serving them.
Patriotism keeps us in the game. It's an instrument of control that's cultivated in us as children through emotional rituals designed to make us identify our nation with our family and with some higher power. These rituals create a bond of feeling linking God the Father, the Founding Fathers, and our own fathers into a patriarchal hierarchy that rewards us if we're obedient and punishes us if we're rebellious. It's a tool for keeping us in our place.
From one comment made by a British government official, Monbiot expands on the subject of the abuse of language by members of the Empire's ruling capitalist classes to disguise their crimes against humanity. The abuse of language is an ongoing method they use to promote their goals of power and profit at the expense and suffering of us--the world's Ninety-Nine Percent. This is one more reason why we urgently need to establish our own media.
While ordinary Canadians are shocked, Greenwald makes a couple of good points: first, to understand what might motivate such attacks; and second, does this recent attack even fit the definition of terrorism even though Canadian government officials immediately framed it that way?
This latter point by Greenwald raises a suspicion. Given that the directors of the Empire and its sycophantic allies always use such attacks to justify more surveillance and repression of its own citizens, it might be even more important to read the reminders provided by Eric Draitser and Tony Cartalucci (see this and this): many of these "terrorist attacks" have been aided and abetted by our nations' secret services as a method to get us to support their imperial projects. Don't be a dupe like many of these setup-terrorists were!
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is as dangerous as ever. Denying access to medicines, increased surveillance of Internet usage and mandatory patents at the behest of multi-national corporations are some of the corporate goodies stashed in the TPP’s intellectual property chapter, revealed by WikiLeaks this month. Journalism could even be criminalized.
Many people in the US and Canada have much to learn from our indigenous neighbors to the south.
The communal democracies of these indigenous communities may be the only thing that could save Oaxaca’s lands from this new and vigorous onslaught of the cult of the individual and corporate gain.
...the occidental world has lost its ability to understand community and “communality”. The cult of the individual, the hero, the rich man, and private, personal ownership has permeated our consciousness without our understanding its ultimate consequences.Read the article to find out how they live solidarity and community.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Escobar cuts through all the propaganda bull-shit we are subject to here in the US, and reveals some very significant developments in the complicated scene in Syria and Iraq.
Inevitably there should be quite a few points of intersection between the International Brigades fighting fascism in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, as stressed by one of the very few articles about it published in the mainstream Western media [as an example, see this post].
If these components were not enough to drive crazy deeply intolerant Wahhabis (and their powerful Gulf petrodollar backers) then there’s the overall political set up. ”
He concludes this report with a warning:
Kobani is now a huge pawn in a game manipulated by Washington, Ankara and Irbil. None of these actors want the direct democracy experiment in Kobani and Rojava to bloom, expand and start to be noticed all across the Global South. The women of Kobani are in mortal danger of being, if not enslaved, bitterly betrayed.
Graeber provides a review of the Spanish Civil War, the history of which is largely unknown to even educated Americans by design (of the ruling capitalist class), to introduce what he sees as a very similar movement for real democracy that is happening in a Kurdish region of Syria.
|Front-lines in May 2014|
Dirik argues that true freedom and democracy can only be established if the older divisive system of patriarchy is also destroyed along with the current reigning oppressive trio of systems she identifies as capitalism, nationalism, and states. From what she reports, it is Kurdish women, mostly in the PKK party, that are leading this struggle for true freedom and liberation in her home country. I think her essay provides much food for progressive thought.
Nationalism, capitalism, statism have been the supporting pillars of patriarchy and often used women’s bodies and behaviours to control societies. The bar of freedom has become quite low in the global capitalist, statist system in which we live in. Hence, it seems to be rather tempting to be satisfied with the KRG, given that it has become a fortress of capitalist modernity. Though, in copying the flaws and shortcomings of the rest of the world, the KRG limits its understanding of freedom immensely.I would express her introductory thesis stated above a little differently. I think that capitalist ruling classes have merely integrated the geographical boundaries of the feudal states, which were conquered through violence, and transformed these territories into modern states equipped with all sorts of institutions ruled over by capitalist elites or ruling classes. The latter then indoctrinated their subjects, workers, into identifying with their states. This latter identification is known as nationalism. The older patriarchal oppression inherited from feudalism was easily integrated into this new system of governance.
Therefore, women should not expect liberation through a state-like hegemonic structure. The moment we start to define the fact that there is a Miss Kurdistan beauty pageant in South Kurdistan as progress and modernity, we fall for the exact same mechanisms that have enslaved humanity in the first place. Is this what we understand as freedom? Unlimited consumerism? Primitive nationalism? Copying elements of global patriarchy and capitalism, labelling them with Kurdish flags in order to praise ourselves as modern?
.... A patriarchal Kurdistan is a more insidious tyrant than the usual oppressors. Colonising and subjugating half of one’s own community in a sexualised manner, one’s intimate partners can be a much more shameful and violent act than foreign invasion.
Hence, Kurdistan’s women must be the vanguards of a free society. It takes courage to fight oppressive states, but sometimes it takes even more courage to stand up against one’s own community. For, it really isn’t a mere Kurdish governance, even a state, that is dangerous to the dominant system. A much bigger threat to the hegemonic structures is a politically active, conscious Kurdish woman.
Kurdish female fighters of the Women Protection Unit discuss military strategies at a training field near Qamishli city (a larger Kurdish city next to Kobani in northeastern Syria)....
'We ask women all over the world not to underestimate themselves': Meet the inspirational Kurdish women who have given up everything to fight ISIS militants
The female YPG recruits also train alongside their male counterparts, and are seen taking part in military drills close to Kobane.
One of the brave fighters says: 'They (ISIS) fear our weapons and they are shocked by our strength
'We ask all women all over the world not to underestimate themselves and believe that they are able to accomplish anything.'
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Dmitry Orlov is a Russian-American engineer and a writer on subjects related to "potential economic, ecological and political decline and collapse in the United States," something he has called “permanent crisis”. Wikipedia
This Russian-American computer engineer has a long history of writing articles in which he argues that the US is headed for economic collapse. Of course, many other people share this general view while differing in the details. I am posting this rather lengthy article because his life experience in both countries might shed some light on a question that is on many minds of thoughtful people today in relation to the increasingly belligerent US foreign policy against Russia and other states, all of which has been justified by a barrage of propaganda lies. Regarding the latter, he writes:
The Americans invaded Afghanistan because the Taleban would not relinquish Osama Bin Laden (who was a CIA operative) unless Americans produced evidence implicating him in 9/11—which did not exist. Americans invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein would not relinquish his weapons of mass destruction—which did not exist. They invaded Libya because Muammar Qaddafi would not relinquish official positions—which he did not hold. They were ready to invade Syria because Bashar al Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people—which he did not do. And now they imposed sanctions on Russia because Russia had destabilized and invaded Ukraine—which it did not do either. (The US did that.)Then he poses the question with the focus on Russia, "...why has war been declared now...?"
Is it because the US is collapsing more rapidly than most people can imagine? This line of reasoning goes like this: the American scheme of world domination through military aggression and unlimited money-printing is failing before our eyes. The public has no interest in any more “boots on the ground,” bombing campaigns do nothing to reign in militants that Americans themselves helped organize and equip, dollar hegemony is slipping away with each passing day, and the Federal Reserve is fresh out of magic bullets and faces a choice between crashing the stock market and crashing the bond market. In order to stop, or at least forestall this downward slide into financial/economic/political oblivion, the US must move quickly to undermine every competing economy in the world through whatever means it has left at its disposal, be it a bombing campaign, a revolution or a pandemic (although this last one can be a bit hard to keep under control). Russia is an obvious target, because it is the only country in the world that has had the gumption to actually show international leadership in confronting the US and wrestling it down; therefore, Russia must be punished first, to keep the others in line.And he continues on with some other reasons.
What is so puzzling to me is the current action of Saudi Arabia, whose Medieval rulers are protected by the Empire, dumping oil on the market causing prices to be very low. This action obviously dovetails nicely with the Empire's economic war on Russia, but it would seem that it also hurts the profits of domestic oil companies, and global oil companies based in the West. These oil companies factor very importantly in shaping ruling class policies of the Empire. So, what gives? Chakrani provides some explanations.
They tell us we're on the cusp of an oil & gas revolution. But what if it's all just a short-term bubble?
The Reality is that the so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints – not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling – mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.The favorable propaganda celebrating the bubble found all over ruling class media can generally be explained by their blindness to a long-term vision that handicaps all capitalists whose class interests causes them to focus on short-term profits as reported in quarterly financial statements.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The bottom line is that the global financial meltdown of 2008-’09 and the European debt crisis of 2010-’12 have never truly been resolved. After governments disbursed record bailouts, the world’s leading central banks simply papered over the remaining weaknesses by subsidizing essentially defunct financial institutions to the tune of trillions of dollars, buying up swaths of toxic assets and providing loans at negative real interest rates in the hope of reviving the credit system and restarting private lending.
But instead of fixing the underlying problems of structural indebtedness, record unemployment, rampant inequality and a seemingly never-ending recession, these measures have only made matters worse.
Yellen...didn’t have anything to say about the economic opportunities that have allowed the gains of a tiny minority at the top to be captured in the first place. Top 1 percent incomes and corporate profits have to come from somewhere. They’re created during the course of producing goods and services—in the United States and around the world. But the workers who did all that producing only get to keep part of the value they create, in the form of wages and salaries; the rest—call it the surplus—is appropriated by their employers, who keep some in the form of corporate profits and then distribute the rest to their owners and top managers. [link added]Under capitalism, the "owners' of economic property use this surplus to buy up more economic property, which permits them to appropriate even more of the surplus. This virtuous circle for the "owning" class has been a vicious cycle for workers particularly given the fact that wealth translates into power. At this late stage of capitalism we see evidence everywhere of the concentrated power by the world's One Percent and the powerlessnesss of the rest of humanity. To the extent that this sense of powerlessness is lodged in our minds by capitalists who control all ideological institutions, perhaps the way out of this growing nightmarish dystopia is for us in the Ninety-Nine Percent to begin the hard work of establishing our own ideological institutions.
Hudson sees that the economy is headed once again to a meltdown. However, as a liberal economist he avoids mentioning that the capitalist system contains within itself contradictions which inevitably lead to periodic crises. Although he often criticizes what capitalists do with the wealth that they extract from an economy which they "own", he must avoid talking about such contradictions in order to keep his well-paying job as professor at the University of Missouri.
Notice in this interview how he criticizes capitalists for not investing in more productive plants, instead using their appropriated wealth to increase ownership. He accepts the fact that capitalism requires growth to exist, but overlooks the inevitable result of such an economy: what is produced is decided by a small group of "owners" as well as who gets the resulting wealth that is created. Thus, the system creates a mal-distribution of wealth reflected in the extremes of wealth and poverty we see in today's world. Because wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of owners, ordinary people cannot afford to buy most products. So, why invest in plants to produce things that people can't afford? Capitalists may be immoral, but they are not stupid!
He also overlooks the fact that this planet does not need more growth--actually it needs less growth. What it really needs is a system in which the benefits are distributed in a socially just way. That requires a classless system whereby all people participate in such decisions about distribution of wealth and what things are needed to be produced to sustain their lives as well as the environment.
One of the most dramatic illustrations of a contradiction in capitalism is what is being produced to transport people--autos. Capitalists, particularly in the lead capitalist country of the US, have a long history of favoring autos to transport people in spite of their inefficiency and growing ineffectiveness. Now we are witnessing ever growing congestion in our major cities and longer commutes. However, it makes sense from a capitalist perspective that autos are produced, and sold with subsidized credit, because they make available a vast range of secondary profitable opportunities. Besides that, locked in their auto cocoons keeps people from interacting with each other, comparing notes about their lives which might enable them to consider ideas that would interfere with the profit requirements of capitalists.
Monday, October 20, 2014
In the following brief video, Indian activist Arundati Roy challenges the way the global elite has repackaged Mohandas Gandhi as a hero to be worshiped and adored. She delivered her talk shortly after the publication of The Doctor and the Saint, a book length introduction to a new edition of The Annihilation of Caste. The latter was written in 1936 by Dalit (aka Untouchable) lawyer and activist Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. Gandhi bitterly fought Ambedkar and his ideas during his lifetime. This, according to Roy, was based on Gandhi’s entrenched beliefs about racial superiority, both towards Dalits and black South Africans.
So, this begs the question: why have these myths, particularly that he was an absolute advocate of nonviolence, been so widely disseminated in our schools and media?
I think because all ruling classes have secured their ruling position through the use of violence, and they fear such violence being used against them. See also this, this, this, this, and this.
On Wednesday, stocks were hammered after economic data showed that the US and global economies were headed for a major slowdown. By mid-day, the Dow was down 460 points before clawing its way back to minus 173 points. It looked like the market was set for another triple-digit flogging on Thursday when the Fed stepped in and started talking-up an extension to QE3. That’s all it took to ease investors jitters, stop the meltdown and send equities rocketing back into space.Whitney provides solid evidence and arguments to prove that the recent turn-about in Wall Street stocks was engineered by the Fed to keep Wall Street afloat for the benefit of the ruling capitalist class.
The Fed, of course, is owned literally by banks which, in turn, are owned by the capitalist class. By creating money, known by their quaint jargon as quantitative easing (QE), the Fed artificially props up Wall Street which benefits only the big-time investors who borrow this cheap money to play the market.
Meanwhile, money that is created in a stagnant economy causes inflation which, in turn, depreciates the value of money earned by workers. Also, remember that money created by the Fed is debt money, or money that is owed to the Fed by the entire nation. It is our sovereign debt (now nearly 18 trillion dollars) which is paid back by taxes levied disproportionately on working people. Can it be any clearer that this 1913 institution was a marvelous stroke of genius of, by, and for the ruling capitalist class?
The nightmare totalitarian state envisaged by George Orwell in his famous dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four was one of endless war. The subject populace of “Oceana” was kept in a perpetual state of militarized hatred and fear regarding a shifting array of always supremely evil foreign others. Endless war drove Oceana’s hierarchical and impoverished economy and kept the toiling masses focused on hideous, threatening enemies abroad, raging and cowering under the supposed protection of their many-sided dictatorship at home.To his apparent astonishment, he finds many liberals and some on the left calling for more wars.
In the last 34 years, the average October temperature in Barrow has risen by more than 7°C − an increase that, on its own, makes a mockery of international efforts to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above their pre-industrial levels.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The protracted overthrow in the course of 2010 of the first cabinet formed by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) does not at first glance resemble what happened in Kiev on January 22nd 2014 – when Victoria Nuland & Co triggered, aided, and abetted an anti–Russian coup d’état. No snipers were involved. No deaths. No civil war against Japanese citizens who had supported a reformist program. It was a gentle overthrow. But an overthrow it was even so.While our attention has been focused elsewhere on events generated by the imperialist Empire, we may have overlooked similar, but less dramatic events, in Japan. With such a history of violence and subversion, Wolferen warns a European audience about the perils of following the lead of the Empire and sitting...
...idly by while [a] generation of politicians at the top responds to the seduction of a power that once represented the good guys, and was the main architect of the post-World War II relatively peaceful and relatively stable world order. It is seductive for Europeans to sit back and allow that power to continue taking the lead. Shared values, and all that sort of thing. How can one argue against such a perspective on planetary political reality today?
There is a little obvious bias included in this essay, especially in benevolent references to "Ike" and John Foster Dulles, but I think it contains a lot of truth about Israeli history from someone whose knowledge is based on close connections with it.
Based on his creditable history of early Israel and other numerous sources, I think it is understandable how this European colonial outpost has served the Empire as a loyal, hyper-aggressive watchdog to aid in the control of the Middle East and its vast energy resources. What I found particularly interesting was the background history, the takeover of Israel by hardcore military sociopaths, and the latter's frequent use of false-flag operations to expand Israeli dominance in the region. One might even speculate about the influence of such people over the aggressive policies of the Empire.
The U.S. State Department is continuing its influence program against the Russian state. It finances "workshops" in Russia to eventually prepare for a "color revolution" there. It hires academic trainers from U.S. universities to work on various parts of the plans. One of those parts is the recruitment and influencing of Russian journalists. When the State Department sends those trainers to Russia it tells them to falsely claim to be "tourists". The Russian found out about practice and told those "trainers" to stop such nonsense.I have a strong suspicion that these subversive efforts by the Empire focused on Russia also explains the attempts to control Russian media under the leadership of Putin which has been reported in US media as "censorship" and an attack on freedom of the press and the internet (see this, this, and this). As Mark Hackard wrote earlier this year:
After twenty years of eastward encroachment, the US push into Ukraine is the logical application of a policy to cripple Russia’s recovery and attain unchallenged dominance over the Eurasian heartland and its natural resources. Several consecutive rounds of NATO enlargement, the criminal bombardment of Serbia and subsequent overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, a string of CIA-orchestrated color revolutions in the former Soviet space and the 2008 Georgia War – far from isolated occurrences, these events show an ever-tightening ring of encirclement. For Kremlin strategists, the Maidan takeover in Kiev proved the point of no return; they’ve seen that the Pax Americana plays for keeps. With their very future on the line, the Russians are fighting back.
Karlin limits his explanation to the obvious question as to why US mainstream media ignored the problem to only one reason--corporate greed:
Of course, the boosters who will profit off of nuclear power don't mention other disasters, such as Chernobyl, or near disasters, such as Three Mile Island.I think that there is a much bigger reason for this censorship. It is because nuclear power is the only existing source of power that can limit the amount of greenhouse gases rising into the atmosphere that is causing climate destabilization.
The growth imperative of capitalism absolutely needs this form of power to exist, and those that benefit from the system must preserve it as a legitimate alternative. The latter's addiction to the power and wealth that the system provides for them blinds them to the widespread harmful consequences to the health of humans and other life forms that nuclear power causes. Hence, the censorship by mainstream media of this report.