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, March 7, 2015

Private Police: Mercenaries for the American Police State

Click here to access article by John W. Whitehead from Activist Post.

Whitehead alerts us to a growing ominous trend that suggests more police violence will be used against protestors and vulnerable people in America's future.
...what few realize is that these private police agencies are actually given their police powers by state courts and legislatures, which do not require them to act in accordance with the Constitution’s strictures or be accountable to “we the people.” As legal analyst Timothy Geigner observes, “They're hiding from public scrutiny behind the veil of incorporation, which may rank right up there among the most cynical things a government organization has ever done. It's a move one might find in the corporate republic of some dystopian novel.

Stop Twisting Truth: Scientific Bodies Should Put The Record Straight On GMOs

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from East by Northwest
The Royal Society acts as a scientific advisor to the British government. The Society is Britain's Academy of Sciences, which funds research fellowships and scientific start-up companies. A self-governing fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine, its purpose is according to its website to "recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity."
Todhunter provides an illustration of how a top scientific organization can be subverted by capitalists to support their profit machinery. This is quite astonishing given the fact that science purports to be a disciplined method of attaining truth while unlocking the mysteries of our physical world. His illustration also provides more evidence that every institution of society has been infiltrated by a tiny segment of society known as capitalists in order to serve their narrow ends (power and wealth) regardless of the consequences to the rest of humanity.

See also Todhunter's article posted Thursday entitled "Not Science, Just Lies And Propaganda: The Massive Fraud Behind GMOs Exposed".

Bad Today, Okay Tomorrow

Click here to access article by Michael Albert from TeleSur. (Note: Unfortunately, there are a few errors either due to typos or the translation into English. One that may not become readily apparent is in this sentence in the second to the last paragraph: "Did the process of winning the limited again occur so as to point toward further advance...." in which "again" should most likely be "gain".)

Albert in this article helps us to think critically about political choices we frequently face when negotiating with our adversaries in the capitalist ruling class.
Judgements about policies are rarely absolutely [absolute], they depend on the social context the policies are being implemented in. 

Imperialism & Anti-Imperialism

Click here if you wish to access the transcript of Stephanie McMillan's monologue in the following 13:53m video posted on her website.

Environmentalist stares at photo of young self as he approves of Dubai Rainforest

Click here to access article from The Pan-Arabia Enquirer.
The giant rainforest, which will require 20,000 gallons of desalinated water each week, and will house imported animals from Africa, is to be built near the club house at the new Donald Trump Golf Course in the gated Damac Properties’ Akoya Oxygen development.
 As [Environmental Officer] Hasslett signed off on his environmental impact report, which described the project as “excellence in sustainability solutions”....

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Paradox of Oil: The Cheaper it is, the More it Costs

Click here to access article by Samuel Alexander posted on Resilience.  (A must-read article)

Alexander is an academic who specializes in environmental issues, and is closely with the Simplicity Institute (based in Australia) in which this article was originally published in PDF format. In this rather lengthy, scholarly, and very important essay he analyses the paradox contained in the title by examining the interplay of economic, environmental, and geopolitical factors.
The main conclusion defended below is that so-called ‘cheap oil’ (at ~$50 per barrel) is just as problematic as expensive oil (at $100+ per barrel), but for very different social, political, economic, and environmental reasons. Just as expensive oil suffocates industrial economies that are dependent on cheap energy inputs to function, cheap oil merely propagates and further entrenches the existing order of global capitalism that is in the process of growing itself to death.
It is clear that he is much more informed about the economic and environmental factors than he is about geopolitical factors. Thus, he devotes much more space to the former. However, he does make this one telling comment about the current geopolitical situation:
Perhaps most importantly, with cheap oil Saudi Arabia is able to punish or put pressure on some of its (and the US’s) geopolitical enemies, including Iran and Russia – two oil exporters that are much harder hit by $50 oil than the wealthier Saudi Arabia .... As of early 2015, the Russian economy seems particularly weak and unstable, and there is some speculation that the US has colluded with Saudi Arabia to flood the markets for this very purpose ..., even if this hurts US shale producers. In fact, some analysts argue with plausibility that oil markets, in our neoliberal era, provide a means for the US government and the broader ‘Transnational Elite’ to insidiously wage economic war, especially against Russia .... It is very difficult to know how far these geopolitical influences are shaping the oil markets – and space does not permit a more elaborate analysis – but there certainly seems to be more than plain ‘supply and demand’ issues at play.
Thus the timing of the current low oil prices are driven more by these current geopolitical factors, but other factors will inevitably produce the same effect. In other words, the foreground "noise" of this geopolitics is masking the background fundamental sounds of the operation of capitalism. His essay focuses more on the broader issue of the limited supply of relatively inexpensive oil within a capitalist economy which requires growth, and thus offers some very important insights about the resulting contradictions and disasters that we will experience as long as capitalism exists.

In an earlier essay published in Reliance in October 2014 entitled "Life in a 'degrowth' economy", he argues that only much simpler lifestyles supported by a different economic system will save us from disaster.
We need to create new, post-capitalist structures and systems that promote, rather than inhibit, the simpler way of life. These wider changes will never emerge, however, until we have a culture that demands them. So first and foremost, the revolution that is needed is a revolution in consciousness.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cracking Capitalism vs. The State Option

Click here to access this interview with John Holloway by Amador Fernández-Savater posted in Guerrilla Translation (run by a cooperative based in Spain).

This is the best article I've found which offers the best explanation of Holloway's basic views regarding issues related to building an alternative to capitalism.
In 2002, John Holloway published a landmark book: Change the world without taking power. Inspired by the ‘¡Ya basta!’ [Enough is enough!] of the Zapatistas, by the movement that emerged in Argentina in 2001/2002 and by the anti-globalisation movement, Holloway sets out a hypothesis: it is not the idea of revolution or transformation of the world that has been refuted as a result of the disaster of authoritarian communism, but rather the idea of revolution as the taking of power, and of the party as the political tool par excellence.

He discerns another concept of social change is at work in these movements, and generally in every practice—however visible or invisible it may be—where a logic different from that of profit is followed: the logic of cracking capitalism. That is, to create, within the very society that is being rejected, spaces, moments, or areas of activity in which a different world is prefigured.
He counter-poses his ideas with the failed history of worker's taking control of the state.
If we’re not going to accept the annihilation of humanity, which, to me, seems to be on capitalism’s agenda as a real possibility, then the only alternative is to think that our movements are the birth of another world. We have to keep building cracks and finding ways of recognising them, strengthening them, expanding them, connecting them; seeking the confluence or, preferably, the commoning of the cracks.

If we think in terms of State and elections, we are straying away from that....
I think that this is correct simply because the "state" is a creation of capitalism. The state is to capitalism what kingdoms were to feudalism. Creators of a new societies must build their governing/coordinating institutions on an edifice of bottom-up authority. Federated communities? Who knows? Holloway doesn't know, and I don't know. That, in addition to weakening capitalist rule, is another task awaiting all revolutionaries and creators of a new world.

Rojava: only chance for a just peace in the Middle East?

Click here to access article by Jeff Miley and Johanna Riha from the University of Cambridge website. (Note: the article also contains a link to a one hour talk delivered by Miley at the University of Cambridge.)

The authors visited the Rojava region on a nine day trip in December of 2014 as a part of an academic delegation "to assess the strengths, challenges and vulnerabilities of the revolutionary project under way."
The revolutionary forces in Rojava are not fighting for an independent nation state, but advocating a system they call democratic confederalism: one of citizenry-led self-governance through the formation of neighborhood-level people’s councils, town councils, open assemblies, and cooperatives. These self-governing instruments allow for the participation of diverse political, ethnic, and religious groups, promoting consensus-led decision-making.

Oregon's signature solar energy project built on foundation of false hopes and falsehoods

Click here to access article by Ted Sickinger & Jeff Manning from The Oregonian (Portland, OR)

Here is an excellent example of a state government wanting to do the right thing: reducing its use of fossil fuels. They soon learned of the enormous difficulties of doing the right thing within a capitalist system. The project deteriorated into a nightmare of disasters characterized by fraudulent papers, fake companies, companies feeding illegitimately at the trough of state funds, and the exploitation of cheap prison labor. 

The moral of stories like this--and they are abundant--is that nothing gets done in a capitalist system, especially something as vital as fighting climate destabilization so that generations of humans that follow us can survive, unless a tiny segment of our population known as "owners" (capitalists) can make a lot of money from it. Frequently as this report illustrates, they will find criminal shortcuts to making their fortune.
Interviews and an examination of thousands of pages of documents show that state officials wrongly awarded millions in state tax credits, turning a blind eye to phony documents. The project also was dogged by an international trade war, a bitter corporate rivalry and a stunning twist that traded high-paid Oregon jobs for prison labor at 93 cents an hour.
By the way, this tiny segment has secured total control over every institution of our society. If we are serious about preventing not only climate destabilization but nuclear wars fought between capitalist gangs whose insatiable desire for more wealth and power will destroy us all, we must find a way to destroy the system. The sociopaths who are in control of the system cannot do their dirty work without it. So, it is the system that must be destroyed, and it is for us the healthy members of society that must find a way to do it so that future generations of humans can survive. We also face the task of replacing it with something that can insure peace, and a way to live in harmony with nature.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ISIS 101 - What's really terrifying about this threat

Click here to access article by John Chuckman from Uncommon Thought Journal.

To save you time, the answer to the question implied in the title is this which he discloses in the concluding paragraph:
The truly terrifying aspect of ISIS and other forces fighting with it in Syria is that the United States and Israel have approved and supported such wanton destruction in so beautiful and formerly-peaceful a place as Syria. Millions of lives destroyed and countless historic places damaged as though they were all nothing more than a few pieces moved on a geopolitical chessboard. I think it fair to describe that as the work of psychopaths.
Of course, what is really valuable in this piece is Chuckman's devastating attack on the Empire's story broadcast 24/7 from their corporate media about ISIS. (Although I am very critical of the lack of links to documentation.) Only a complete idiot or a person who goes about their daily lives passively consuming information from corporate media and concerned only about their lives and that of their family and friends would believe such fairy tales. But it is the creation of the latter type of citizen that is the secret of the Empire's success. It is one of their key strategies in pursuing their criminal aims.

Remember a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln? "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Well, the capitalist directors of the Empire have discovered a more accurate variation of this theme. They firmly believe that it is sufficient to fool most of the people all of the time. And the evidence so far suggests that they are right. 

However there are caveats to this principle: you must keep your hoi polloi reasonably well taken care of in their daily lives or else you must scare the hell out of them with messages about terrorists, criminals, and perverts lurking everywhere to harm them so that they will look to the directors' authorities for protection and guidance. They obviously have chosen the latter option. Equipped with their corporate media megaphones, the directors don't concern themselves with the work of independent journalists, analysts, and bloggers who expose their fairy tales in the micro-media of alternative websites. That way they also enjoy the added bonus of proclaiming that they permit free speech.

Putin and Iran Do a ‘Game Changer’

Click here to access article by William Engdahl from New Eastern Outlook.

According to Mark Twain "history never repeats itself but it does rhyme".  Well, that is proving to be true of the 21st century which is a rhyme of the 20th when the capitalist empires of Britain (allied with the US) competed with Germany (allied with Japan and Italy) for world dominance. Here in the 21st century Russia, China, and other countries refuse to take orders from the US Empire. So, look forward to another century of wars--far more devastating with nuclear weapons now in existence. 

This astute geopolitical analyst reports on Russian and Iranian preparations.
The dynamics of Russian foreign policy since the USA has forced a de facto declaration of war via financial and economic sanctions against Russia is impressive to put it mildly. Whether it will suffice to break the economic siege of Washington and open the way for a genuine global economic alternative to the bankrupt US Dollar System is not yet clear. What is clear is that Vladimir Putin and the faction of industrial barons who have decided to back him are not cowering in fear.

Cop Throws Elderly Man Down, Slaps Him in the Face, For Trying to Use a Restroom

Click here to access article by Cassandra Rules from The Free Thought Project.

I just discovered this website which from my 15 minute inspection appears to offer excellent filmed evidence by ordinary citizens of police brutality. Because the website also reports on a few incidents of police good conduct, I think one can safely conclude that the website administrators are objective in their coverage. 

This is only one incident among many that I noticed on the website. There are numerous others depicting far worse scenes of police brutality and murders by police directed against the most vulnerable citizens. Check it out.

There have always been some such incidents like this since the establishment of police forces simply because policing agencies like all institutions were created and/or shaped to serve a ruling capitalist class. However, the increasing reports of such incidents and the use of force against peaceful demonstrators of recent years suggests an epidemic of police violence toward vulnerable and protesting citizens that usually goes unpunished, and is dramatic evidence of a definite trend toward a police state. Apparently our masters in the One Percent have no answer for the increasing precarity of ordinary citizens, and thus are relying more on police violence to intimidate resisting citizens into passivity. However, people are fighting back by videotaping such incidents and showing this evidence to all the world.

Sometimes you can’t win: More cold and snow thanks to global warming

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

This freakish weather we've experienced this winter across America is the result of the excessive burning of fossil fuels which are necessary to drive the engines of capitalism. It is becoming clearer every year that we are witnessing the destabilization of our climate. Do you think we should just get accustomed to this situation or get rid of the cause?
If global warming is not simply warmer weather, but rather increasingly crazy weather, then this winter has given us ample evidence. An irony of global warming for eastern North America is it seems to be the one place that is getting colder and snowier winters thanks to global warming.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Another US “Success Story”: The Creation and Abandonment of Kosovo

Click here to access article by Thomas S. Harrington from Common Dreams. 
16 years after the 1998-99 War,  impoverished Kosovo still lacks basic water, electricity and waste management.
Referring to the US creation of Kosovo, Harrington writes:
...it was part of the US plan to make sure that the then newly unshackled countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe would essentially be beholden to it, and not their EU neighbors.

Once this dependence was established, as it was in Kosovo, Bulgaria, Poland (which did not need much coaxing) and the Baltic Republics, the US could, as Rumsfeld famously let slip in 2003, play the new Europe off against the old Europe and, in this way, neuter any ability the Old Continent might have to act as a check upon US prerogatives.

The program has worked like a charm. How do we know?

Downton Abbey economics

Click here to access article by David F. Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

This brief article brings into focus the key feature of the capitalist system that provides our masters in the ruling class with so much wealth while leaving us with so little that we have to scramble to survive. 
Those at the very top today have figured out what those who lived upstairs in Downton Abbey knew almost a century ago: it’s amazing how much wealth you can come to own when everyone else creates it but ends up owning very little of it.
Because Vanity Fair magazine caters to the rich and powerful, they often run "cultural" articles that appeal to our masters in the One Percent. A year ago I noticed that they were giving extensive coverage to PBS's TV program "Downton Abbey". Obviously there has been something about this program that has turned into something like an obsession for our masters. After some reflection I began to understand how key features of this series appealed to them. In my rather satirical commentary posted about a year ago, I wrote this: 
From watching TV the rich apparently have rediscovered  the delights of having people serve their every personal need just like in the days of yore. This is good news for us [job seekers]. They now want to emulate the characters on their favorite TV program, Downton Abbey, by hiring people who will attend to their many personal needs in a suitably obsequious manner. Of course, this highly romanticized TV version of aristocratic life has very little to do with reality. Then domestic helpers were treated little better than slaves and sexual abuse was rampant, but the lords of the manor in these British TV programs featured on PBS are always extremely virtuous. It's clear that Downton Abbey serves the fantasies of the current ruling class who want to view themselves as virtuous as well as powerful.

Monday, March 2, 2015

12 US top political figures murdered like Boris Nemtsov

Click here to access article by Sage Eurasian from Oriental Review.

This selection of 12, after the murder of John Kennedy, only represents the more infamous examples of grossly suspicious cases involving assassinations of people who posed problems for capitalist class power in the US. (They left out Robert Kennedy.)
The list makes clear the ongoing menace of murder of any US prosecutor or national judge or politician who does not serve US ruling political families. Especially note the recent, media-hidden shooting murder of US Federal (national) Judge Roll after ruling against the US regime, along with the ‘suiciding’ deaths of two US Federal Prosecutors Ross and Colbert … ‘hits’ which keep even the US Supreme Court and all US prosecutors in terror and behaving submissively. 

The Dark Influence of British-Controlled Tax Havens and City Of London Plc

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Raging Bull-Shit.

This outstanding blogger alerts us to another excellent film about a subject which has been so under-reported and obscured by mainstream media for centuries: how the City of London functions to preserve trillions of dollars that capitalists have stolen from workers of the world and the world's environment.  

This is no oversight on their part. It is the way capitalists rule--by obscuring reality, secrecy, and simply lying. These are the methods that ruling classes have always used, but they have been perfected by Western capitalists. Such practices have had a major contribution to the success of a system that rewards a tiny segment of a population with huge material rewards and, most of all, power to access even more wealth and more power.

I'd really like to purchase the film, but it appears that the best way to access it (for me in the US) is online through Vimeo

Probably the best article I've posted before on this mystery zone in London is from Vanity Fair.

Crunch Time for the Global Corporatocracy

Click here to access article by Don Quijones from Wolf Street.

This blogger sheds more light on another scheme that the capitalists are using to bypass any restrictions posed by nations on access to their wealth--the so-called "free-trade" agreements. Again, we see how they are using secrecy to keep the hoi polloi from finding out what they are doing.  
...the only way for the uninitiated to learn about some – but far from all – of the potential repercussions of today’s trade agreements is through leaked documents. The current negotiations for a US-EU trade deal (TTIP) are so clandestine that the few Members of the European Parliament that are granted access can only view the plans in their original documentation, in a secure location, with the threat of espionage charges hanging over them if they are caught making copies or sharing the details with the public.

Free trade and Mexico’s junk food epidemic

Click here to access article from Grain.

This article reports on an excellent example of the devastation that "free-trade" treaties can have on a nation's health in addition to their economies. Major international food corporations like Coca-cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé are making huge profits from neoliberal trade treaties like NAFTA.

Free trade agreements like NAFTA have shifted Mexican diets away from fresh fruit and vegetables towards heavily processed and refined foods, with catastrophic effects on the health and development of children.

Mainstream media has become a shocking exhibit of intellectual bigotry and thought coercion

Click here to access article by Ethan A. Huff from Natural News.
Everywhere you look, media pundits, industry-backed doctors, politicians and public health authorities are blaming the unvaccinated for spreading disease to the vaccinated. These mouthpieces are constantly regurgitating lies on television and in print about vaccines only being effective if everybody gets them, for instance, or diseases that were once eradicated by vaccines making a resurgence because some people choose not to vaccinate. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Capitalism and Women

Click here to access article by Abdullah Ocalan from the official website of the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan)

Because Ocalan is a major intellectual in this fascinating Kurdkish movement and political party, I thought I would post a sample of his writing. From Wikipedia we learn the following:
Abdullah Öcalan (...; born 4 April 1948), ... is one of the founding members of the militant organization the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 1978 in Turkey, which is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by some states and organizations, including NATO, the United States and the European Union.

Öcalan was arrested in 1999 by the CIA and Turkish security forces in Nairobi and taken to Turkey, where he was sentenced to death under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code, which concerns the formation of armed gangs. The sentence was commuted to aggravated life imprisonment when Turkey abolished the death penalty in support of its bid to be admitted to membership in the European Union. From 1999 until 2009, he was the sole prisoner on the İmralı island, in the Sea of Marmara. Öcalan has acknowledged the violent nature of the PKK, but says that the period of armed warfare was defunct and a political solution to the Kurdish question should be developed. The conflict between Turkey and the PKK has resulted in over 40,000 deaths, including PKK members, the Turkish military, and civilians, both Kurdish and Turkish.

From prison, Öcalan has published several books, the most recent in 2012.
I don't know if he writes in another language and such articles are translations or if he wrote this in English, in any case I find the language a bit awkward in several places. Still, I think this article offers us a good introduction to his thinking about capitalism, women's key place in society, and his political understanding of history and present day political issues. I don't know much about the influences that have shaped his political philosophy, but we learned yesterday from my posting of an article from Reflections of a Revolution that Murray Bookchin has shaped some of his ideas. 

Here is how he begins this essay:
A realistic definition of capitalism should not present it as a constant created and characterised by unicentral thought and action. It is, in essence, the actions of opportunist individuals and groups who established themselves into openings and cracks within society as the potential for surplus product developed; these actions became systematised as they nibbled away the social surplus.

RGBS’s Film of the Week: Murder, Spies and Voting Lies

Click here to access the series of seven videos via YouTube that together make up the film posted on Raging Bull-Shit.
This week’s film of the week is an incredible documentary that tells the story of a computer programmer who was contacted by a private company with ties to convicted chinese spies, to write a program that could be used to rig US state elections in 2000 and 2004. Among other things, it raises serious questions about both of George W Bush’s presidential election victories and serves as a very stark reminder of the vulnerabilities of using electronic voting systems. 

Looming Warming Spurt Could Reshape Climate Debate

Click here to access article by John Upton from Climate Central.
Humanity is about to experience a historically unprecedented spike in temperatures.

That’s the ominous conclusion of a vast and growing body of research that links sweeping Pacific Ocean cycles with rates of warming at the planet’s surface — warming rates that could affect how communities and nations respond to threats posed by climate change.

Papers in two leading journals this week reaffirmed that the warming effects of a substantial chunk of our greenhouse gas pollution have been avoided on land for the last 15 to 20 years because of a phase in a decades-long cycle of ocean winds and currents. 

Coming Soon to a Theater near You [in March]: ‘Merchants of Doubt’

Click here if you wish to access the introduction and promotional video directly from Yale Climate Connections.
Kenner [the film director] lifts the curtain on a secretive group of highly charismatic, silver- tongued pundits-for-hire who present themselves in the media as scientific authorities – yet have the contrary aim of spreading maximum confusion about well-studied public threats ranging from toxic chemicals to pharmaceuticals to climate change.