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, November 22, 2014
This article makes an excellent contribution to the understanding of the appeal that many Muslim have for the Empire created Islamic State, but it omits all of the history of the Anglo-American ruling classes' use of this medieval dynasty to sustain their dominance in the world.
I haven't the slightest doubt that that this regime would have been put away in the dustbin of history except for its usefulness to the current US-led Empire. The Saudi Arabian people would have long ago thrown out these barbaric rulers had not the directors of the Empire decided to use their oil to back our fading dollar after losing much our national treasure in the war crimes committed by the directors in southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. In exchange, we, like gangsters of the 1930s, offered these head-chopping fanatics protection from such an inevitability.
If you don't know this important history, then I highly recommend that you read this piece for starters. Then if you want a more comprehensive history of how oil has played a dominate role in world history especially by various empire builders, I suggest you view the videos linked to in this article.
If the mainstream media made the effort to analyze and report the facts, the whole country would know about a level of selfishness that has spiraled out of control since the economists of the Reagan era convinced the wealthiest Americans that greed is good for everyone.I take issue with the above introduction to this article. Selfishness has not "spiraled out of control" because of the Reagan administration. Selfishness has always been a prime motivation of capitalism which has in a variety of ways manifested selfishness throughout its 400 year old history. Think slavery, think wars of conquest, think child labor, think about the massacres of protesting working people by agents of the rich, think about the Opium Wars, think about how the CIA has been involved in the importation of illicit drugs into ghetto areas of the US, etc. Capitalists from Adam Smith to Margaret Thatcher have openly acknowledged that selfishness drives the system. In fact, they have made selfishness a virtue. They rationalized this asocial virtue by proclaiming that such a system will benefit everyone.
It is now being discussed more and more in liberal media because it is consuming the middle classes of Western countries. However, this was inevitable given the nature of the system: private ownership of socially produced wealth usually referred to as the "economy". In reality, it is the way capitalists have organized the economy which has naturally resulted in ever increasing concentrations of wealth and its concomitant power, and has produced all the present crises: islands of the rich amidst oceans of the poor, never-ending wars, and climate destabilization. It can only grow worse unless we, the Ninety-Nine Percent of the world, take action to insure our survival.
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.
This might be a little dated, but I was so impressed by these two inspiring and unusual (actually, I hope not) people who have gone up against power and were unwilling to sacrifice important social values in order to get ahead in the rat-race known as the capitalist game--and I'm not referring to Monopoly.
Journalist Matt Taibbi and JPMorgan Chase whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann join Alyona to discuss Taibbi's explosive new piece in Rolling Stone Magazine. It is Taibbi's first piece since his departure from First Look Media.
This is an actual view of our planet-home from a Russian satellite.
Forget about emigrating to another planet after we thoroughly destroy the habitat that can support our lives here--that is just another fantasy of the rich who are bored with all their wealth. Thus, we must take care of our home, the mother Earth that nurtures all our lives. Because the rich appear intent on destroying it, it appears that we may have to take away the wealth and power hoarded by the rich in order to protect our home.
I recommend viewing this while listening to this: first click on the latter link, then return to this window and re-open this video in full screen mode. Enjoy.
On November 9, the ugly face of America’s money-saturated election process was put on full display.
Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, two billionaires with right-wing, pro-Israel agendas, took the stage at the Israeli American Council’s inaugural conference in Washington, D.C. They fantasized about bombing Iran and about buying the New York Times because they said it’s biased against Israel. Both are bound to play an outsized role in the 2016 presidential elections by flooding the campaign with money to support their favored candidates.
Forget about "Republicans" and "Democrats". They are only two wings of the capitalist ruling class who do not allow anyone else to participate in the running of the country. Think of the USA as the private property of this class--because it quite literally is!
Friday, November 21, 2014
Considering the hysteria generated by ISIS’ alleged global exploits, it should then be infinitely curious to readers who happen across US policymakers claiming that ISIS may pose a threat, but constitutes by far a lesser threat than Iran or Syria – the two principle nations leading the real fight against ISIS and its international sponsors. Furthermore, US policymakers claim there is no urgency to defeat ISIS, and it should instead be “contained.”He then goes on to carefully construct arguments that lead to his final conclusion:
Deciphering the deceptive, criminal language used by US policymakers illuminates the ongoing conspiracy in which ISIS plays a central part. ISIS is considered not a threat – not because the US can manage what they claim is an inherently “anti-Western” terrorist organization – but rather because the US itself created and controls it. Syria and Iran, while not actual threats to the West, are considered instead “threats” to US interests – more specifically – the interests of the corporate-financier elite on Wall Street and their lobbyists in Washington D.C.
I think Dangl places far too much emphasis on the Citizens United Supreme court judgement as a determining factor in the recent electoral victories of Republican candidates in Congress. The ruling capitalist class has had many weapons at its disposal and has used them to maintain their rule ever since the founding of the country in 1781.
The Citizens United decision only made it more convenient for this class to fund its chosen candidates--which it has always done through more devious means. I actually welcomed the decision because it makes clear what has always been hidden. The Supreme Court decision was only another indication of the advanced consolidation of their rule which, in turn, reflects the growing consolidation of wealth and power by this small elite. They no longer fear us. Maybe it's time that we put back the fear of us in them. Dangl seems to think so in his concluding paragraph, and suggests that we go even further than mere fear:
We cannot depend on the 1% of the world to lead us away from disaster – they caused our global crises in the first place, continue to profit from them, and cannot bring about solutions from the top-down. It has to be the people’s movements leading the way from below, deconstructing capitalism and building a better world from the bottom-up.
I had quite a debate with myself about posting this article, but in the end I thought it necessary because of the popularity of TruthOut to run "alternative" writers. Time is running out on the human race, and there are many popular critics ready to lend a hand to solve the numerous crises that capitalism is creating. Unfortunately, not all of them have much of a contribution to make, and some may be consciously serving the ruling class's security state by deliberately confusing issues and leading potential activists in the wrong direction. I would put Wolff in the first category. On Wednesday I posted and responded to a pamphlet entitled "The One Party Planet" published by an "activist" organization called The Rule. This pamphlet is getting a lot of attention from alternative websites. I think The Rule they may be in the second category.
I think this essay is mostly rubbish. Wolff's "alternative" views about political-economic matters and their history has been bred within US academia which rewarded this retired professor with a long and "distinguished" career. People who are serious critics of capitalism do not get rewarded and are forced to live very marginal lives outside of any mainstream institution.
I am not going to waste much time on attacking this essay, but a few observations are required. Let's examine what Wikipedia has to say about Wolff.
Richard D. Wolff is an American heterodox economist, well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis.Reviewing this posted article, can you find anything of significance about Marxian economics or class analysis? The word "class" doesn't even make an appearance. Socialism becomes "traditional socialism"--those historical attempts in the name of socialism that we saw in the 20th century. And he sees fascism as a different system! He sees worker cooperatives, or "workers self-directed enterprises", as a significant revolutionary force that holds much promise to transform capitalism. He regards government and capitalists as independent actors. It is no wonder that he has constructed such a piece of rubbish having used such worthless conceptual materials!
The begins his essay with the news about stress tests being applied to European banks, and strangely, or not, all the European banks like their counterparts in the US passed the test. However, some of the banks in the periphery did not pass by much.
With the rapidly growing anti-austerity party of the left, Syriza, the European ruling capitalist class are facing a major challenge to their policies. Read the article to see how a capitalist class deals with opposition within countries being governed with capitalist versions of "democracy".
Questions about the future of eurozone economies have also been raised by the volatility of the markets for sovereign debt issued by the countries of the European periphery, especially Greece. Greece is an interesting case because it illustrates in an extreme form the predicament of politicians around Europe and the world who are called upon to make ordinary citizens pay for the ongoing global capitalist crisis.
A surge of Arctic air has left much of the continental U.S. shivering in unusually bitter November cold. But this early foray into winter weather is just a small blip in the overall global picture, which is of a warming world that is still on track to see 2014 set the mark for hottest year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.
That warming — fueled largely by the manmade rise of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere — is so relentless, in fact, that the odds of seeing a record coldest year in the future are vanishingly small. As the animation below shows, the last time the world experienced a record-coldest year was in 1909, more than 100 years ago. But in that period, 18 records for warmest year have been set, with 2014 likely to be the 19th.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation.It appears from another post entitled " German Satire of Anti-Russian Propaganda Goes Viral" that ordinary Germans are experiencing even worse propaganda than we are, but not being taken in by it. Instead, they laugh at it.
It seems to have touched a nerve in Germany, where there is growing discontent due to a perception that their media is very biased and misleading regarding the Ukraine crisis.
Hard to believe, but the German media has been worse than the anglo-saxon media in this regard.
McAdams examines one of the US's most effective subversive organizations: the tax-supported National Endowment for Democracy and why the Czech Republic may be the next target of its machinations.
Gershman, a former Trotskyite, has been president-for-life of that organization [National Endowment for Democracy (NED)]. He overthrows elected governments overseas, but has never been elected to any office himself.
Perpetually flush with cash and ever on the lookout for a regime to change, when one catches the eye of Carl Gershman, trouble is sure to follow.
That is why the Czech Republic had better watch out.
Yesterday, Gershman took to the Washington Post to sound the alarm over Czech President Milos Zeman.
There is "...disturbing new evidence that our planet's groundwater is being pumped out much faster than it can be replenished."
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
This article is essentially an introduction to a 60 page pamphlet entitled "The One Party Planet" published by an activist organization called The Rules. The latter organization sponsoring it proclaim this as their mission:
The Rules is a global movement to bring power back to people, and change the rules that create inequality and poverty around the world.Wan's introduction whetted my radical appetite to read the pamphlet. He writes:
From American CEOs to Chinese party officials, and from African presidents to Russian oligarchs, there is an overwhelming consensus that unrestrained selfish competition is not only the best, but the only possible, way to organize society. This is not a conspiracy concocted in dark smoky rooms, and the individuals at the top don’t share some grand master plan. But the internal logic of their actions is one and the same, and this has contributed, the pamphlet argues, to a situation in which an unelected elite wield incredible influence over politics and inequality has reached outlandish levels.This "hook" grabbed my attention which motivated me to read the pamphlet.
In response to this, The One Party Planet culminates in a carefully argued call for a global uprising.
I read and partly skimmed the pamphlet which purported to examine the system identified at various times as neoliberalism and capitalism. Unfortunately, the pamphlet is in a JPEG image format so I can't cut and paste various excerpts to illustrate my points.
The reader is greeted with a huge smiley on the first page, and then it begins with remarks about the value of pamphlets, how they have a glorious history having been used in many great revolutions. Following this, it launches into a discussion about some philosophical aspects of truth, some general observations about the immorality of neoliberalism, how the system rewards psychopathy, and lots of data about inequality of wealth and power. It also addresses the issue of climate change. They make clear that they are not proposing a conspiracy theory for all the problems in today's world, instead they argue that the problems are a result of the logic of the system. This appealed to me.
After reading this lengthy pitch, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't find much about the fundamental dynamics of capitalism, most especially the capitalist construct of economic property ownership by individuals and anything to do with the labor theory of value. It was all rather tame intellectually, while being heavy on the immorality of neoliberalism. I certainly wasn't aroused enough to go out and start a "global uprising". I began to think that I was being too cynical.
Then I perused The Rules website, and at the bottom of their Movement page I found the source of their funding: Purpose, the New Venture Fund, The Open Society Foundations, and crowdfunding. The Purpose Foundation looked very mainstream to me, the New Venture Fund was listed on Tides which is sort of a clearing house for numerous charities. Rich people and corporations give to Tides which in turn doles out money to various charities and non-profits. The Open Society Foundations is a creation of super-capitalist George Soros who is widely known to have been a sponsor of the "color revolutions".
As several former Soviet republics slowly 'opened' their societies, Western-funded NGOs and civil society organizations flooded in, with powerful financial backers. Over the course of years, funding, training, organizational support, technical and material support was provided for a number of organizations and political groups that helped overthrow regimes in Georgia (2003), the Ukraine (2004), and Kyrgyzstan (2005). Not only were there government funded NGOs involved, but also private foundations, such as billionaire George Soros' Open Society Institute.While reading the pamphlet, I was experiencing the uncomfortable feeling that I was being seduced. Now, I don't mind being seduced if it leads to an exciting erotic experience, but I do object to being intellectually manipulated. This information about funding increased my suspicions that The Rules organization's main purpose is to guide radical students on US campuses toward "constructive" action projects that will not seriously interfere with capitalist rule, and possibly to keep an eye on such students. Could it be that Soros and establishment-funded people like Gene Sharp (see this, this, this, this, and this) are using their skills to contain effective radical political actions of US students? Am I being too cynical and suspicious?
Since writing this commentary, I now find another article about this pamphlet posted on Common Dreams and re-posted on Raging Bull-Shit.
This is an excellent antidote provided by an expert on NATO to the daily propaganda we are doused with eminating from the Empire's ministry of information (also called mainstream media) regarding many provocations by the Russians.
The title of this article is probably too broad because it focuses on the experiences of workers in one French company. Still, the article provides an excellent illustration how privatization of a state company can, and often does, severely impact workers.
The privatization of France Télécom began in 1996 when shares were placed on financial markets, although the state retained majority ownership until much later. Employees accepted this partial privatization on the grounds that they would retain their public service status as fonctionnaires, which meant they could keep certain benefits, including job security, and that they couldn’t be legally fired.And then it was all down hill from there.
Lavelle is, of course, RT's host of their TV program Crosstalk. As one who has become very skeptical of news reports in the form of propaganda, I find that the debates on Crosstalk are quite stimulating, and offer views which cannot be expressed in US mainstream media.
Up until recently, western media outlets enjoyed near monopoly in defining the news agenda. It also worked in lockstep with the powers that be. Reading the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times one will quickly notice they closely mirror the foreign policies of western governments. It has been a cozy arrangement too. A pliant media whitewashed foreign policy adventurism. In return, major media outlets were given a front row seat to cover wars to be packaged as the West saving the world. This model worked reasonably well until the power of the Internet made itself felt, and until the financial crisis hit, failed wars were exposed, and new and alternative media began to emerge.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
By using huge amount of pesticides and genetically modified seeds together with expensive agricultural machinery, global corporations are "making a killing" from large farming operations by shipping their products over long distances (using fossil fuel energy) to Western countries to serve the whims of richer consumers. In order to do this and fatten their corporate income statements, they must "by hook or by crook" move small farmers off their lands and into their hands.
...peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. The concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is therefore directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day and is undermining global food security.Everything under a capitalist system insures that decisions about nearly everything is made on the basis of its profitability for individuals rather than how much it benefits society. In this advanced form of capitalism known as neoliberalism, the boundaries of nations no longer serve to protect societies from predatory actions of corporations. In this new world corporations are moving across boundaries, bribing and co-opting local officials to serve their corporate agenda instead of the local population. However, this phenomenon is also true within the richer capitalist countries where many live in, or near, poverty. So, you see, everywhere in the world the system pits small groups of individuals known as "owners" or investors against the needs of the overwhelming majority while undermining the ability of the planet to sustain a healthy human habitat.
We certainly need to swiftly end fossil fuel burning and the destruction of ecosystems and that will require us to rely on the least harmful energy sources such as wind and solar power. But the myth of plentiful "clean" energy stops us from focusing on the far deeper changes needed - a transformation toward a low-energy society.If you read and fully understand this article, you will soon embrace the idea that a revolution to eliminate the scourge of growth-fueled capitalism from this planet is not only desirable, it is a necessity for human survival.
I can't say that I fully understand the argument she is making because I, like most others, don't play in this world of high finance. Thus, our ruling class play these opaque games without much fear of the hoi polloi. I leave it to those more familiar with the subject to understand and interpret where the game is heading. Prins, Paul Roberts, and many others, think we are headed for another, and far worse, economic disaster.
Maybe this is why our Empire directors are being so aggressive in asserting their power throughout the planet. In the end, I think its clear that the value of our over-printed dollar rests not on anything tangible, but on the threat of violence by the globe's biggest bully, NATO and associated allies. It is backed by the actual use, and the potential threat, of violence made possible by the Empire's 1000+ military bases scattered throughout the world.
RT: What are the true aims and objectives of the Ukrainian authorities then?
ED: To expand the war, to continue their aggression against Donetsk and Lugansk and to try to achieve militarily what cannot be achieved politically and that is the re-integration of these territories into Ukraine. They are for all intents and purposes lost to Ukraine because of the actions taken by the extremist government in Kiev. Remember, this is a government that came to power illegally and is prosecuting an illegal war after having disenfranchised politically the entire eastern portion of the country. So to sit and say that somehow Kiev is a true partner for peace in this process is really farce in the face of the facts.
...it's remarkable most media missed Sunday's stunning admission by TransCanada CEO Russ Girling that, yes, in fact, just like all those greenish naysayers have charged, Keystone will create just 50 permanent jobs. Of course he hastened to add there will be 9,000 temporary construction jobs and "42,000 'indirect' jobs (waitresses et al) for companies that will thrive during the two years of construction and then quietly, painfully die off, as will the surrounding landscape after the accompanying devastation followed by the inevitable leaks and spills and disasters. But still: 50 whole jobs, or as the GOP talking points would have it, "Jobs, jobs, jobs!" Call your senators.Yes, whenever our masters want to push some plan that will result in disasters for us but huge profits for them, they trot out the "jobs" deception. This reminds me of the BP ad that is now shown constantly on TV to counter BP's very tarnished reputation.
Monday, November 17, 2014
I highly recommend this major piece of geopolitical analysis in spite of his record of writing for mainstream and liberal media outlets.
Patrick Smith is the author of “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century.” He was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992. During this time he also wrote “Letter from Tokyo” for the New Yorker. He is the author of four previous books and has contributed frequently to the New York Times, the Nation, the Washington Quarterly, and other publications.I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about this writer, but examining his record of articles posted on Salon, I am impressed with his astuteness and honesty in spite of what I identify as a liberal writing style. Such a style is characterized by a tendency to use misleading and bland words that provide cover for concepts which otherwise would serve to uncover the reality of ruling classes. However, if for no other reason, such a style is a necessary qualification in order to write for any mainstream or quasi-mainstream media company. I am referring to the use of a figurehead leader (Obama or Kerry) or nation (US or Russians) as a way to hide the reality of an action or policy decided by a particular ruling class; also "neoconservatives" or "neocons" which I regard as a cover for Zionist influence
Put this in the larger context: With the prospect of ending three and a half decades of pointless hostility within reach, this is the moment to be battering Russia as near to a pulp as possible with sanctions, market interventions to its disadvantage, and who can tell what on the military side in Ukraine? You start to think Washington simply cannot help itself....Still, as Smith so well demonstrates in this analysis, he does look below the surface announcements of governments and media reporting, and with the help of his informed sources makes some very convincing arguments of what is really happening. In this piece he weaves together bits and pieces of evidence which, for me, ends up constructing a most dangerous scenario: one in which a dominant Empire, armed with nuclear weapons, refuses to accept the growing reality of a world in which it is being challenged by several competing capitalist-gangs, and gives every indication that it will not tolerate any rivals. However, in the end Smith, true to his liberal perspective, trivializes this nightmarish scenario by reducing it into a worry about who are going to be winners and losers:
This century’s winners and losers are not yet clearly marked — I have to preserve my optimism on this point — but with each passing event, each mistake, who is fated for which side becomes a little more evident.
As David Ruccio of Real-World Economics pointed out:
It is a portion of the surplus captured from workers in the the United States and around the world that could be used to create jobs and improve the infrastructure—and is currently not being used for that purpose. Instead, it’s being hoarded as cash for corporations to do with it what they will, when they will.Not only do they stash away their wealth in foreign lands, but often it is hidden in tax havens which permits them to pay less taxes. Should anyone be surprised? That is the way the system is supposed to work: the accumulation of wealth and power by "owners" of the economy. I suppose you thought that this process would work to create jobs and ultimately benefit society. Didn't you know that jobs are an expense on their profit and loss statements? Didn't you know that "there is no such thing as society? ...there are only individuals and their families." (M. Thatcher) Thus, capitalists do everything they can to eliminate jobs, or failing that, to reduce these costs as low as possible.
If you don't like the system, organize and change it!
Recall that McMillan was an activist in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in which she was groped by a cop, fought back against the cop, and was subsequently arrested for assaulting a policeman, a felony for which she was facing a sentence of seven years. However, she was lucky.
Following an international leniency campaign, McMillan was sentenced to 90 days at the Rikers Island Correctional Facility. In July 2014, she was released on good behavior after serving 58 days.In the interview she gives us a very moving and realistic picture of what it is like to be in prison, who ends up there, how the justice system really functions, the overwhelming stigma attached to prisoners, some of the real reasons why they are there, and other astute observations about ruling class prisons for those who cannot, or refuse, to adapt to a dog-eat-dog, racist capitalist society.
The author explains how NAFTA, which has been a boon to corporate profits, has also been a major root cause of the massacre of 43 Mexican students that has so shocked the Mexican people.
We are often told that freer trade is a panacea for all our economic ills. Yet if that were the case, Mexico, which has signed more trade agreements than just about any other nation on the planet, would be one of the world’s richest, strongest performing economies. Instead it’s on the verge of a vertiginous descent into social chaos, endemic lawlessness, and failed statehood, while its economy – at the exclusive service of transnational corporations, home-grown oligarchs, corrupt politicians and drug lords – continues to splutter in the slow lane.
Sexual violence is central to the larger structure of colonial power, its racialized machinery of domination, and its logic of elimination. This is readily apparent in the history of settler colonial contexts, where the machinery of violence explicitly targets native women’s sexuality and bodily safety as biologized “internal enemies” since they are the producers of the next generation.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The author digs up clear evidence of the Empire's illegal agenda for Syria, and that the directors of the Empire are trying surreptitiously to flout national and international laws while packaging their war crimes in humanitarian wrappings to avoid opposition by their own citizens.
Combes looks at the details of this "historic" agreement, and finds rather meaningless commitments that look more like a public relations stunt than a serious agreement.