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, December 27, 2014
Although Vltchek makes many important points, particularly about the apparent desperation of the directors of the Empire to crush all opposition, he, like many others, does not zero in on the basic problem--inequality. I'm referring here to an organization of society in which inequality is built into it, and which inevitably produces a class-structured society.
The current form of society was established by capitalists starting mostly in the 18th century. They became increasingly powerful and wrested control from aristocracies and monarchies whose power was based on control over land. Under capitalism today's societies are basically divided into two classes: those whose primary income comes from the "ownership" of capital and those whose primary income comes from their labor. The former class of people have over time become very rich and powerful and nowadays they constitute a tiny section of our population in contrast to the vast majority who work for a living--if they are lucky--by selling their labor in a labor market.
Vltchek and many others like Pepe Escobar and William Engdahl correctly see the true nature of what has evolved into a marauding US-led Empire which tolerates no opposition to its rule. However, they do not see the underlying system which has produced such a destructive empire. Apparently they have not learned from history the underlying dynamics of capitalist class rule that produced the imperialist British Empire, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, or the Japanese Empire.
These people merely see the surface realities of a marauding US Empire and look to Russia, China, and the rest of the BRIC countries to counter the US-led Empire and thereby create a peaceful "multipolar" capitalist world. They have not learned the lessons of the capitalist empires of the 20th century when capitalist gangs vied for dominance much like street gangs or mafia organizations do in today's world. Because they don't see the same imperialist traits in the leadership of China or Russia, they think that they will remain this way in the future. That is very naive thinking.
No, the only way humanity will achieve peace is through organization of societies based on structured equality. That is the challenge we ordinary people must strive for. There is now so much at stake. There are threats to the very existence of humanity: never-ending wars, catastrophic nuclear wars and climate destabilization.
Since the anti-war protests on Vietnam, the U.S. government has made “perception management” of the American people a high priority, feeding them a steady diet of propaganda about foreign crises, even getting “peace groups” to buy into “pro-democracy” wars, write Margaret Sarfehjooy and Coleen Rowley.
It looks like people are starting to realize that a ruling class can engage in domestic imperialism against ordinary people within a class structured society just like they do against foreign countries. The end result is the same: people will fight back, and they have a human right to fight back.
The existence of a heavily armed, highly militarized, wholly unaccountable army to protect a class and race based social order is totalitarian by degree— those on the side being repressed bear the brunt leaving the illusion of justice for those not paying attention. The one-sided response of the political leadership and police spokespersons to the tragic murder of Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is evidence of the social order being protected. Left entirely unaddressed is the historical role of the police in maintaining an unjust race and class based social order from slave patrols to convict leasing to mass incarceration and for-profit prisons to class and race-based enforcement of selectively repressive laws. And to be clear, it is the political leadership that has designated and so-armed the police to be the quasi-military force they now are.
“This is a chance for all of us torturers to say, ‘Look at us, this is who we are,’” Cheney, who will be the Grand Marshall of the parade, said.
Friday, December 26, 2014
This piece lends more support to those who argue that the fascization of the US is accelerating.
After lobbyist-run SuperPACs and big money efforts dominated the last election, legislators are now appointing lobbyists to literally manage the day-to-day affairs of Congress. For the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees government intelligence operations and agencies, the changing of the guard means a lobbyist for Academi, the defense contractor formerly known as Blackwater, is now in charge.Well, of course, for a long time there has been a growing merger of corporate, military, and government interests by the accelerated movement of personnel and funding by the rich and their corporations between and among these sectors. The frog of democracy (which was never very healthy) is being roasted alive by the gradual heating of the water of corporate/military control of all society.
This Canadian sociologist and independent journalist provides a rather comprehensive review of the Empire's latest war, this time on Russia--although an economic war, who knows where it will end up? He concludes by suggesting that it likely will be a world changing event. Let us pray that this will not be in the form of a nuclear Armageddon.
The coming century will not be the "American Century" as the neo-conservatives in Washington think. It will be a "Eurasian Century". Washington has taken on more than it can handle.... Despite this, the architecture of the post-Second World War or post-1945 global order is now in its death bed and finished.
...U.S. lobbying efforts, through groups such as the Orwellian-named “Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade”, have been pushing for “interoperability” between European and American rules on both sides of the Atlantic. That basically means a mutual recognition on the respective rules on both sides of the Atlantic. The only catch: in the United States there are currently no comprehensive data protection laws in place.
If the U.S. negotiators get their way – and let’s face it, when it comes to its dealings with its so-called “allies,” Washington invariably does – multinational corporations will have carte blanche to pry into just about every facet of the working and personal lives of the inhabitants of roughly a quarter of the world’s 200-or-so nations.
Makki describes the appropriation of African lands and their privatization, to serve corporate and foreign state interests much like what happened in Britain driven by capitalists in the 18th century. The latter has been well described in the classic book The Great Transformation by Karl Polanyi.
In Africa, corporations and nation-states are acquiring vast amounts of land, in a move reminiscent of classical imperialism. Sociologist Fouad Makki discusses the enclosure, or privatization, of land in countries like Ethiopia, with terrible social and ecological consequences. He traces the land rush to the global financial crisis, rising food prices, and the inner dynamics of capitalism itself.
“Should both agencies approve this application, Center for Food Safety will pursue all available legal options to halt the introduction of this dangerous crop.”
First approved in the 1967, dicamba is a potent broadleaf herbicide that in epidemiology studies has been linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects in their male offspring. Dicamba is moderately persistent and frequently detected in surface waters. Farmers are particularly concerned by dicamba’s propensity to drift and damage neighboring crops. Dicamba drift also threatens flowering plants that provide nectar for pollinators and habitat for other species.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
I found this essay very interesting because it conveyed a lot of the history behind the Santa Claus mythology and how it is used today to cover up some very harsh realities. However, I don't feel that Noh really answered the questions he posed at the beginning:
Why is this myth so powerful? Why does it capture imagination so deeply? Why do generations perpetuate this massive fraud to their children?His answers seem to blame the victims, us, for the ideological weapons (which are ultimately backed by their state sanctioned violence) used by a tiny capitalist class to maintain and enhance their powerful position in society and the world. On the other hand, we do share in the responsibility for our subordination to this exploitative ruling class, and he exhorts us to take responsibility for our gullibility and our collusion with the masters of our society.
...the sleigh of mystification flies triumphally in the dusk of reason, against the harsh, dark night of capitalism. It’s incumbent on those of us with thinking minds and caring hearts, to eschew this palliative narcotic and to aspire for ourselves and others, the true flight that a critical, liberated mind can attain, to struggle for the heights of justice, equality, solidarity. Thinking critically can start the journey that lightens all our hearts and souls, the better to serve one another in the dialectical expression of justice called Love. This is the best gift you can give yourself and your children for Christmas.
It was only a matter of time before Santa Claus himself came under the Neanderthal-eyed scrutiny of American intelligence. After all, Santa's citizenship is unknown, and he crosses borders with no passport or other form of identification. No one knows whether he even has a valid pilot's license.
I've been wondering how and when our masters in the capitalist class would come after dissident bloggers like me. In the so-called "liberal democracies" they still much prefer indirect methods, frequently in legal form as cover, to deal with dissidents or people who interfere with profit opportunities of the ruling capitalist class. Here is another effort negotiated in secrecy by our masters to interfere with the internet, which was developed with taxpayer money, on behalf of corporate interests.
U.S. telecommunications corporations bitterly oppose net neutrality because, under this principle, they can’t speed up or slow down online content according to who pays them, or doesn’t, for special treatment. And any dilution of net neutrality opens the floodgates to censorship of the Internet, whether government or corporate.
.... That the Trade In Services Agreement, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), have to be negotiated in total secrecy, with only corporate lobbyists having access to texts or meaningful input, speaks for itself. The empty shell of formal democracy under capitalism gets ever emptier.
This is a topic worth thinking about, and I have been. I've wondered about the realities of social media, their impact on people who might access this blog. I'm really quite ignorant on this subject. Are the little handheld gadgets really conducive to reading and thinking about material on my blog? If not, do most people have computers or access to them anymore? Is social media just a trendy habit that will soon change? If you have any informed opinions on this topic, I would appreciate hearing from you.
It appears to me that social media has had a damaging impact on citizen journalism as exemplified by the many Indymedia outlets that have gone away (I was unable to access Seattle Indymedia this morning). This is especially worrisome because I regard citizen journalism as the highest priority to enable us to take control of society away from warmongers, worker exploiters, climate and habitat destroyers.
This is a quite lengthy history not only about the rise of modern police forces but it also includes historical material about the rise of the capitalist ruling classes and worker history. I read most of it as of the time of this posting. I consider myself well-read about the history of this period, but I still learned more. This is essential reading for most of us who have only been exposed in schools to capitalist perspectives which have omitted and distorted the history of workers.
We’ll see that, in the North, the invention of the police was just one part of a state effort to manage and shape the workforce on a day-to-day basis. Governments also expanded their systems of poor relief in order to regulate the labor market, and they developed the system of public education to regulate workers’ minds. I will connect those points to police work later on, but mostly I’ll be focusing on how the police developed in London, New York, Charleston (South Carolina), and Philadelphia.
Prominent Bahraini human rights activist Nabeel Rajab accused Bahrain’s ruling family of seeking to change Bahrain’s demography by adopting a strategy similar to that used by the UK in the creation of Israel.
Talking to Iranian news channel Press TV, Rajab said the systematic naturalization of foreigners and the deportation of locals after revoking their citizenships are proof that al-Khalifa family is implementing the same strategy that Britain implemented in Palestine.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Escobar heaps scorn on the Empire's economic blitzkrieg and NATO buildup on the border of Russia to intimidate Russia into submission before tackling China.
Essentially, the Empire of Chaos is bluffing, using Europe as pawns. The Empire of Chaos is as lousy at chess as it is at history. What it excels in is in upping the ante to force Russia to back down. Russia won't back down.From all appearances the Empire's gamble of intimidating Russia is likely to backfire causing more losses to Empire interests.
A case can be made that the geopolitical shift towards Russia-China integration is arguably the greatest strategic maneuver of the last 100 years. Xi's ultimate master plan is unambiguous: a Russia-China-Germany trade/commerce alliance. German business/industry wants it badly, although German politicians still haven't got the message. Xi - and Putin - are building a new economic reality on the Eurasian ground, crammed with crucial political, economic and strategic ramifications.Can we be assured that the capitalist directors of the Empire are sane people who will use good judgement in the face of many ongoing disastrous consequence to their interests? I think it is unlikely. Therefore, the only hope I see of avoiding the ultimate disaster of a nuclear Armageddon lies with activists and the Ninety-Nine Percent especially here in the US.
The author warns us about all the provocative steps that the Empire is taking to prepare for an insane war with Russia while keeping the American sheeple shopping and otherwise asleep. Then he/she concludes:
Heading into 2015, it may have appeared that we were having something of a calm before the storm, but that was an illusion (created by selective reporting). This war is already hot on multiple fronts. It has been for years. All it takes is one stupid move for proxy wars to cut out the middle man, and then all bets are off.
To even consider a direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia is insane. The consequences would be nothing short of unthinkable. Yet, humanity seems to be sleepwalking right into that very scenario.
Could we as a people stop this? Of course we could. These so called rulers don't actually have power, they just have your obedience [and ignorance].
Surely you don't imagine for one minute that
I keep wondering when the gullible of the American population will finally use some independent judgement that is required of a genuinely free people instead of being led by the nose into one disaster after another.
In Greece, as the state collapses, the neighborhoods organize - An interview with a member of the Athenian assembly movement
Although US conditions do not favor neighborhood organizations yet, this article is highly recommended to all community activists and organizers because of its many hard fought experiences of organizing within a larger collapse of Greek ruling class institutions. Also, it is clear that Greek organizers have drawn on the experience of organizers in several other countries.
The assembly movement owes a great deal to what took place in Argentina. Although there is no direct connection, the influence is real. During the first general strikes, we were inspired by the Argentinian experience, and later also by the Tunisian and Egyptian events. Another important influence was the self-reduction movements in Italy during the seventies: groups organized to not pay rents, electric bills or transport fares. In our assembly, particularly, many people were inspired by the Zapatista struggle in Mexico and its quest for autonomy. We participate in solidarity actions with these struggles in our neighborhood.
Here we get a taste of what Christmas shopping is like in Argentina.
In addition to being a gross misuse of a gerund, a “shopping” is a mall. Malls have gifts – you need gifts. Do the math. Night of the Shoppings is the Argentine answer to the North American “Black Friday”. This is about as close to finding something “on sale” as you can get in a place that is notoriously harsh on importing anything you might want.
For a few hours every year, malls are turned into capitalistic hellscapes. Full of loud music, horns, wistels, and employees in terrifying elf costumes. There are actual sales that occur on top of “happy hours” which are intense sales periods for specific stores that get yelled out over loudspeakers and last for about 5 minutes....
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
This critical book will be controversial for much of the left from social democrats to autonomists, but it opens many much needed crucial questions. It is grounded in an impressive base in the literature of alternatives to capitalism and in a wide knowledge of many social movements around the world. Swift’s creative approach to imagining alternatives to capitalism has sparked this reviewer’s imagination, and I hope it will yours.Here are some quotes from the book that I really like:
Clearly, there are limits to growth on a finite planet. The earth’s capacity to adsorb “the filthy by-products of global capitalism’s voracious metabolism is maxing out”. As Swift underlines: “Have no doubt – de-growth there will be! It is just a question of weather this will result in equitable and democratic social arrangements or in gate-guarded communities serviced by underpaid workers and surrounded by large populations of environmental refugees”.
Federal Court Gives “Early Christmas Present” to War Criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Others, Immunizing Them From Civil Inquiry Regarding Iraq War
The fact that these war criminals will not be persecuted illustrates the class nature of the US justice institution. This is a perfect illustration that proves the fact of a ruling class which, by definition, rules over every important institution of society which includes justice and the rule of (their) law. This ruling class is obviously the American capitalist class that is populated at the highest levels by people in finance, major corporations, and military. The Iraq War was pursued for their geopolitical interests, not for the interests of ordinary Americans. That is precisely why they lied to us and arranged for the 9/11 false-flag tragedy. That is why they continue to lie to us about Ukraine, their economic war against Russia, and most everything else.
Directly challenging the NATO powers’ policy of cutting off credit to Russia to undermine the ruble and bankrupt the Russian economy, China is pledging to extend financial aid to Moscow.Lantier cites numerous important sources to support the title of this article, but as usual with WSWS policy, he does not provide any links to external sources. In spite of the fact that this website is quite reliable in reporting news from other sources, I find this policy very annoying. No one is infallible, and people differ in the way they interpret information. By not providing links to references from external sources, we can not be certain if their interpretation is correct unless we take a lot more time hunting down the references. This policy is another illustration of their Trotskyist "vanguard" orientation.
Todhunter examines the use of GMOs by Empire corporations from a purely power/control point of view by first posing this question:
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not essential for feeding the world, but if they were to lead to increased productivity, did not harm the environment and did not negatively impact biodiversity and human health, would we be wise to embrace them anyhow?
Monday, December 22, 2014
(This posted article is only an introduction to what I think is a major exposition of a Chinese ruling class point of view on very important recent geopolitical events. Following the introduction, the Saker provides numerous options to download the paper. I used Adobe Reader which is common in the US.)
I have spent considerable time this morning reading this "white paper" provided by the Saker which purports to present a thoroughly Chinese point of view on the current rapprochement between Russia and China to preserve their independence in the face of the rampaging Empire which this unknown Chinese author refers to as the Hegemon. (Another reference he uses is Gen. Shoygu who is the Russian Minister of Defense.)
Throughout the 25 page essay the author uses the metaphor of the "double helix" of the DNA's structure to describe what appears to be the development of a close collaboration between Russia and China to secure their independence and the independence of other nations oppressed by the Hegemon, and to preserve world peace.
I am posting this piece as a "must read" because I was impressed with its internal logic from a Chinese point of view. I found its geopolitical analysis breathtaking. That doesn't mean that I don't have reservations about its conclusion--I've just run out of time to make any comments on it.
Most of us will live to see a new international, global dynamic. Some of us will
feel its nourishment. Some of us will be stuck in the cavern of Elites who have
run the world for centuries. Just as the North Pole shifts, geopolitical poles shift.
Economic poles shift, also. A containment policy or exclusionary trade treaty or
covert destabilization program cannot stop 3.5 billion people inspired by two
enlightened leaders who have the same metaphorical DNA. The tectonic shift is
too much for mere mortals of the West who have run out of ideas, lies, bullets,
bombs, false flags and proxies to win and control mankind. The Hegemon has bad
DNA that cannot adapt to the fresh air and sunlight of the truth. Humanity will
win its freedom and civilizations will prosper.
It is clear that to the West, as they were during the proxy war against the Soviets, and during attempts to forge an oil pipeline across Afghan territory, the Taliban remain a tool, not an ally - to be used and abused whenever and however necessary to advance Wall Street and Washington's agenda - a self-serving Machiavellian agenda clearly devoid of principles.It's clear from this and many other articles that the Empire of Chaos, as Pepe Escobar likes to refer to the US Empire, sponsors terrorist groups to serve their imperialist agendas. We've seen this in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iraq, Chechnya, Syria to name a few countries, and we've seen widespread evidence of government agency involvement with domestic terrorist incidents (Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11, Boston Bombing, several "terrorist" incidents organized by the FBI through entrapment) in the US to justify the construction of a police state that for now stays somewhat hidden behind a veneer of rule of law.
This can be seen in play, even now as the Taliban serve as a proxy force to torment the West's political enemies in Pakistan with and serve as a perpetual justification for military intervention in neighboring Afghanistan.
Basically terrorism sows fear among the targeted population which can further the imperialist agenda abroad and the containment of political opposition here at home.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
I think the complexity of understanding and coping with biospheric degradation leading to the destruction of human habitat exists only because a small segment of humanity controls our societies, and their control is threatened by their system of capitalism that delivers to them the powerfully addictive drugs of power and wealth. They refuse to see the "writing on the wall": their system which requires constant growth is reaching the finite limits of our planet. Hence, they refuse to seriously take measures to solve the crisis, keep postponing any significant actions, make promises they can't keep, and indulge in all kinds of fantasies. If this reminds you of an alcoholic, the comparison is very apt.
The only solution I see is a fundamental re-organization of our societies. This, of course, means that we must take away private ownership of our economies so that we, the people, can rationally cope with the crises we are now facing. However, this task of radical re-organization of societies is really complicated given that fact that these tiny ruling classes control all media and indoctrination agencies in addition to police-military agencies. Catastrophic climate destabilization is solvable, but only if we can solve the problem of a world-wide social-economic revolution. That is the real complexity.
After a few centuries of burning fossil fuels and the accumulation of vast amounts of climate science data, techno-capitalist carbon man is also being forced to react to the fact that the earth’s atmosphere is not an infinite pollution sink for his endless consumption of energy. The problem is that several planetary tipping points have already been irreversibly transgressed, threatening the very habitability of earth.
Our[The capitalist ruling class's] predictable collective response is to try to techno-fix the problem rather than entertain any fundamental rethink of the pillars of the capitalist economic system and the scientific reductionism that have led us to this impasse.
There are many reasons that community activists have supplied. Here is a one from a New Yorker:
Andrew Padilla is disturbed “that all this energy towards accountability…can be flipped into increased surveillance in communities of color and increased budgets to police.” The body cameras point at civilians, giving the police’s perspective of the interaction. In many videos released from officer body cameras, the police officer has their gun drawn but it cannot be seen in the shot. “Body cameras on police [are] fundamentally the opposite of cop watch,” Andrew Padilla argued. “Body cameras on police…record civilians. In cop watch, you record police.”Another investigation found...
One key problem: officers control the record button. They decide when to turn on and off the cameras and have little to fear when violating department policies about recording, Fusion’s analysis found. In many use of force incidents, camera footage doesn’t exist, is only partially available, or can’t be found. And when body cameras are turned on, the footage usually favors the officer’s account, according to police, law enforcement experts and public defenders we spoke with.
This is another extremely well researched article (with linked documentation) from Cartalucci who zeros in on the Empire's ongoing methods of subversion of countries that refuse to bow to the diktats of the Empire's directors. Cartalucci supplies solid evidence that these methods are now being applied to Russia in preparation of another color-style regime change.
The coordinated manipulation of global energy prices, a NATO build-up in Eastern Europe, and the rekindling of terrorism in Russia’s southern Caucasus region all appear to be ever-increasing crescendos toward a much larger event – a “Russian Maidan.”
The necessary components of a successful Western bid to overthrow the Russian political order include a political front protesting in Russia’s major cities, as well as a full-spectrum economic war to put pressure on Russia’s population, increasing dissent as well as swelling the ranks of staged protests Wall Street and Washington put in Russian streets. Another necessary component includes armed components to act under cover of “peaceful protesters” to escalate street demonstrations, prevent security forces from restoring order, and to carry out the actual physical overthrow of these security forces.