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, June 27, 2015

Dystopia Now: Beyond the Real Time Catastrophe of Capital

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch.

Initially Street reports on an editorial by a conservative NY Times columnist which I largely skipped over to find some real cogent observations about the catastrophe of capitalism that is occurring right now--and it will only get worse. I found these observations beginning in the next section subtitled "'Successful Modernity': The Present is Stranger Than Dystopia".
Who thinks anymore that the U.S-of American “argument” between “liberalism [translate: the Democrats] and conservatism [translate: the Republicans]” (both of which are aligned with corporate plutocracy, global U.S. Empire, and eco-cide against democracy, social justice and the common good) marks “the great argument of our time? (Try democracy and the common good versus the unelected and interrelated dictatorships money and empire or, more simply, the people versus the ruling classes.)

Wall Street And Big Corporations Got What They Wanted – This Time

Click here to access article by Dave Johnson from Campaign for America's Future
How do the plutocrats and oligarchs and their giant multinational corporations get what they want when a pesky democracy is in their way? They push that pesky democracy out of their way.
This piece illustrates a liberal (left-wing capitalist) take on issues related to "free-trade" treaties and governmental compliance with neoliberal efforts to serve the interests of our capitalist ruling class. The author believes that we have a system of democracy in the US and that we just need to make greater efforts to make it work. Like the sentiment packed in this anti-war song "Oh when will they ever learn....", the same applies to such naive attitudes about a government of, by, and for the financial and corporate elites. Johnson clearly has not learned as indicated by his conclusion:
Is this how business will be done in the 21st century? Maybe, but maybe not. We the People came close to winning this time. We will come closer and closer, then we will start winning again.
Well, time will tell if we start winning again, but it will not be through "our representatives" in Congress, or elections sponsored and controlled by the capitalist ruling class.

Greece to hold national referendum on debt deal - PM

Click here to access report from RT.

What a concept! Syriza leaders are letting the Greek people decide on the issue of paying off international banks for loans which the latter managed to induce corrupt Greek leaders in the past to assume.
The ruling Syriza party urged voters to reject “the ultimatum by the lenders “ and “say yes to the proposal made by the government.” The leader of the Independent Greeks party, and Tsipras’ junior coalition partner, meanwhile urged the voters to protect the country’s sovereignty as they did “in 1940 when Greek people decided to say no to foreign armies.”

“I call for all of the party to participate in this big celebration of democracy called a referendum and to vote 'No' – no to handing away our independence,” Panos Kammenos said. 

Karachi heat wave: Unforgiving heat claims more lives

Click here to access article by Saima Mohsin and Euan McKirdy, CNN.

The latest count is that around 1000 people have died of heat-related causes.
It began Friday. On Saturday, temperatures reached 44.8 degrees Celsius (112.64 degrees Fahrenheit) -- the highest-recorded temperature in the country in the last 15 years.
Sunday's temperature dipped slightly to 42.5 Celsius (108.5 F).

Savings Pools: Opting Out of the Banskters’ Money System

Click here to access article by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall from her blog The Most Revolutionary Act.

Bramhall is a political refugee who fled from Seattle to New Zealand after extensive FBI harassment. Her "crimes" stemmed from her support of local African-American projects and, probably most decisively, intimate relations with African-Americans. This was red-meat to the racist FBI especially back in the 1980s.

It's nice to offer some constructive ideas to wean ourselves off services provided by ruling class institutions. She provides a brief description of a banking and lending arrangement that exists in New Zealand, her new home.
One way I’m opting out out of the debt-based Wall Street banking system, is by joining a local interest-free savings pool. A group of neighbors is investing their savings in a savings pool – rather than a bank – and to use the savings pool to loan money to one another. We’re using a model designed by the (New Zealand-based) Living Economies Trust.

The isolated splendor of the superrich

Click here to access article by Jim Hightower from his website

Our capitalist masters are buying homes in exotic places and on islands so that they don't have to encounter riff-raff like us.
Rich people tend to live behind high walls with guarded gates. Then there are the über-rich. They don't need walls and gates, for they isolate themselves from us riff-raff the natural way – by buying their very own private islands.

Friday, June 26, 2015

“The American Military Coup of 2012″: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in America

Click here to access article by Frank Morales--Global Research re-published a 2012 article.

The title of the article is taken from a prize winning fictional essay published in a military journal in its 1992-93 Winter edition, and is used to launch the essay which is filled with an abundance of information about the use of ruling class violent oppression and suspension of civil liberties dating from shortly after the American Revolution to little publicized documents dating and greatly accelerating after 9/11. 

The material as presented is used like a bludgeon with which to hit well-indoctrinated people to wake them up to the fact that underneath the nice shiny exterior of civil liberties (which the original US ruling class erected to calm its well-armed citizenry after the Revolution), the ruling class have throughout American history prepared, and sometimes have used, illegal use of force and violence to insure capitalist rule. Hellinger and Judd in their book The Democratic Facade  provide a summary (pp. 7-8) of the highlights of violent repression used against workers and political dissidents.
...America's history of violence against worker is on of the bloodiest among Western nations. Between 1880 and 1900, there almost 23,000 strikes in the United States, and even more over the next several decades. Repeatedly federal troops, state militias, and hire thugs were use to break strikes. .... [They then go on to report many details of such incidents.]
The government also targeted political radicals in the labor movement without waiting for strikes. .... In the years before the First World War, vigilante mobs organized by corporations and state politicians attacked IWW member ("Wobblies") all across the country. The level of repression escalated when the United State entered the war. Congress used the war as a pretext for passing the Espionage Act of 1917, which was nominally aimed at spying activities. Relying on this legislation, the government sent more that 900 people to prison in one year or their political views, including the entire leadership of all the socialist organizations in the United States, as well as hundreds of labor union leaders. .... [in WWII] Over 100,000 Japanese American citizens were rounded up and interned in detention camps....
During the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s, FBI agents infiltrated civil rights organizations and harassed and intimidated activists. All groups identified as "leftist" were similarly targeted. .... [the same thing applied to anti-war activists in the Vietnam War. National Guard troops killed anti-war protesting students at Kent State and Jackson State.]
Repression and threats of repression remain important guarantors of elite rule and governmental power.
Since the Iran-Contra scandal, and more recently the 9/11 event, the fist has grown much larger into something resembling fascism, and its outlines are made more visible via the documents presented in this article. The fact that the fist has been used only sparingly thus far is evidence that capitalist control of all ideological institutions have succeeded so effectively in preventing most threats from their worker-subjects.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sanctions and the Birth of the New Russia

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

After his recent visit in St. Petersberg where he was invited to speak, Engdahl reports on his observations particularly in relation to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which was held during his visit. It appears from this report and others that Russia is doing just fine in spite--or maybe because--of the economic sanctions imposed on them by the US Empire and its vassals particularly in Europe. Welcome, once again, to the new multi-polar world which Russia, China, and an assortment of other nations appear to be creating to oppose the strategy of chaos (aka "strategy of tension") that Empire operatives are, and have been, pursuing in many parts of the world to maintain hegemony.
By pursuing a strategy of making peaceful economic and trade deals with her allies in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, above all with China; deals within the BRICS states with India, Brazil, South Africa and China and within the Eurasian Economic Union, Russia is emerging as the avant garde of a New World Ordering, one where respect for national borders and national sovereignty again becomes the cornerstone.
The only problem is, these nations are under the control of their own ruling classes which, although not purely capitalist, are using the growth engine of capitalist enterprises to compete with the Empire's hegemony. One might see this as a drive to create a new multi-polar world order as do Engdahl, Escobar, and others, but this poses a number of troubling questions that Engdahl and other geopolitical analysts seem to ignore. 

While these ruling classes seem to have benign intentions now, what of the future when they, too, become drunk on and addicted to power and wealth? And, doesn't the threat to the existing hegemon's dominance of the world not threaten a global nuclear holocaust? Did there not exist a multi-polar world prior to WWI and WWII? Multi-polar capitalist blocks can never be stable because capitalist ruling elites are always driven by the exigencies of their system to compete over markets, resources, and cheap labor to sustain themselves. And finally, does the accelerated drive by Russia and China to develop their economies and counter the dominance of the Empire not also pose threats to climate stability?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Building workplace organizations anew

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

Because I've had numerous distractions this morning, I haven't had time to carefully read this article. It appears to provide an excellent history of worker organizing through unions in the US since the 1930s. Because the capitalist ruling class controls all institutions of our society, history is taught with worker history very much neglected and distorted. This is your opportunity to learn about the real history from a very trusted source.
Workplace solidarity in the face of the neoliberal onslaught is as crucial as ever, yet present-day unions become ever more fearful. How do we build solidarity in an era when the tools of the past have lost their effectiveness?

New types of organizations are not only necessary, it is essential to look at past upsurges in union activity, particularly those of the 1930s, with clear eyes rather than romanticization....

Greek public debt is illegal, illegitimate, and odious

Click here to access article from the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens.

This article is taken verbatim from the "Hellenic Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee Preliminary Findings - Executive Summary of the report".

As long as societies are fractured along capitalist-worker lines and capitalist classes control governments, and those governments can assume debts that workers are obligated to pay off, then such debts are immoral and illegitimate. Class structured societies are illegitimate.

Study Suggests Key Role for Warming in Extreme Weather

Click here to access article by Andrea Thompson from Climate Central.
When massive storms inundate coastlines or a veritable snowpocalypse keeps a city buried for days, the first question on many minds is: Was climate change to blame?

It may play more of a role than previous studies have suggested, according to scientists who advocate a different approach to searching for the fingerprints of warming in extreme weather.

In a new study detailed in the journal Nature Climate Change
[behind a paywall], these scientists suggest that if investigations focus on the well-known and robust effects of temperature and increased water vapor in the atmosphere, they’ll find that these factors tend to exacerbate the impacts of such weather events. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

China Syndrome

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from CounterPunch.

Whitney doesn't just rely on statements of government officials or would-be government officials, but he astutely goes to the real power centers where the operatives of the ruling capitalist class reside and decide--NGOs like Center for a New American Security and real "deciders" like Kurt M. Campbell and ruling class operatives like Ashton Carter. After doing so, it becomes clear that the US pivot to Asia like its counterpart in Europe to contain Russia will emphasize military intimidation. Of course, the Trans-Pacific Partnership which excludes China is another weapon aimed at China's rising economic power. However, with the US and China joined at the hip economically speaking, it seems that directors of the US Empire are addicted primarily to the use of military force to contain China and maintain their hegemony over the world. 

Whitney like Pepe Escobar and William Engdahl seems almost gleeful at the prospects of the demise of the US Empire and the rise of another empire. This is somewhat understandable given the destruction and chaos that has been imposed on the world by the reigning hegemon, but why welcome another empire? Can we expect any substantial difference from others who possess overwhelming power to decide the fate of the vast majority of the world? Haven't humans learned that class rule whether a capitalist class rule or a nominal "communist" bureaucratic class (who rule over capitalist enterprises) cannot create a peaceful world where equality exists? and cannot create economies which are sustainable within our limited natural world? 
There it is, eh? The end of one empire and the beginning of another.

China’s leaders aren’t going to blow their big chance by getting sucked into a costly and pointless war with the United States.  That’s ridiculous. They’re going to keep plugging away until the Silk Road becomes a reality.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Wounded Warrior Project: Marketing wars, indirectly, on the backs of the wounded——and getting rich in the process.

Click here to access article by Phil Murray from The Greanville Post.
You have surely spotted one [of] their commercials. They spend millions airing them. They normally feature a celebrity, like Trace Adkins, or Dean Norris. The message is always the same: Help our wounded “warriors”. In my time we called ourselves “soldiers.” Now, when we need to cosmeticize our ugly wars, and the public infantilization via television allows for such whorish grandiloquence, the old GIs have become “warriors.”

These campaigns, besides the questionable use of the funds collected (the CEO, Steven Nardizzi makes $375,000 a year), are devious instruments to propagandize imperial wars (a variant of the “support our troops” shopworn, dishonest appeal).
So, I can't help wondering, who are they as in "their commercials"? Usually an author employs a meaningless abstraction such as "the powers that be". While Murray exposes the exploitation of veterans and today's soldiers to serve the ulterior motives of others, unfortunately his focus on the main target is a bit blurred by mentioning all sorts of "evil-doers" such as the "billionaires", "naked American corporate power", "oligarchic power", "American elites bent on world domination", etc. 

What needs to be done in the future is for people such as Murray to narrow their focus on the capitalist ruling class so that it becomes more distinguishable. If we fail to identify the source of this problem and many others, we will continue to elude effective methods of solving them. By identifying the source of this exploitation of veterans and soldiers clearly as the capitalist ruling class, then it is only a short distance away from identifying the system of capitalism as the main source of the problem. Then revolution becomes the solution, and methods of organizing such a feat become an effective response to this and of many other associated problems such as imperialist policies, poverty for the many and riches for a tiny few, militarization of police, racism, 24/7 surveillance of citizens, climate destabilization, etc.

The “Great Satan” and the “New Silk Road”

Click here to access article by Caleb Maupin from New Eastern Outlook.
Wall Street Aggression Drives Expansion of Iran-China Relations. In February of 2015, China heralded the opening of its month leading the Security Council with a cultural performance at the United Nations Headquarters. The performance, done in the form of traditional Chinese ballet was called “The Dream of the Maritime Silk Road.”

.... The theme of the performance was not merely an obscure historical reference, and its selection for performance at the United Nations was no accident. The respective histories of China and Iran in the last century have many similarities. In the current period, though the two countries have distinctly different ideologies and perspectives, they are increasing becoming bound together in economics. Both of them are facing increasing hostility from the United States.
Later he writes:
China currently has a vast capitalist market, that is tightly regulated and controlled by the Communist Party. The Chinese Communist Party has millions of members throughout the country. The Communist Party functions in a highly disciplined manner, watching over the capitalists and society as a whole, to ensure that the goals of the revolution remain intact.
But, I remain unconvinced that China's capitalist class will not corrupt and takeover the Communist Party. And, what are the aims of the Chinese Communist Party?

Where to begin with Climate Justice?

Click here to access article by Joanna Cabello from Degrowth in action
Climate justice is a relatively new term. ...it is important here to expand upon the different understandings of, and some of the debates surrounding, the term ‘climate justice’....

Although it has a much longer history that is difficult to trace, the term was popularised by the formation of the ‘Climate Justice Now!’ network in Bali during the COP-14 UN Climate negotiations in 2007. In the build up to the COP-15 in Copenhagen the term became a mobilizing platform across Europe as the ‘Climate Justice Action’ (CJA) network opposed the COP
[Conference of the Parties] as an unjust set of negotiations interested in expanding capitalism rather than in addressing the global climate crises.

U.S. Summers Bringing More and More Heat

Click here to access article from Climate Central.
Though June, July, and August usually bring the heat, for parts of the country spring felt decidedly more like summer. Florida had its warmest spring on record and Georgia its third warmest. Seven states in the West had a spring that ranked among the top 10 hottest on record, exacerbating the historic drought there. Even some Northeastern states saw a record-warm May.
Overall, summer temperatures are heating up across the country, having risen steadily since the 1970s. For the contiguous states over that period, temperatures overall have increased at a rate of about 0.4°F per decade for a total of nearly 2°F since 1970.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Towards a real fusion of socialism and ecology

Click here to access article by "Ned Ludd" posted on People and Nature. (I put "Ned Ludd" in quotes because I think this must be a pseudonymn. Ned Ludd was a person, mythical or not, whose name was used to identify the movement of Luddites around the late 18th-early 19th centuries. This essay was by a person or persons associated with a contemporary British organization inspired by Luddism called Breaking the Frame.)

I'm not sure one can separate out industrialism or "technocratic thinking" from capitalism as this author tries to do. However the author does identify pre-capitalist tendencies found in Christian countries that did emphasize dominion over nature. It seems clear to me that early capitalists greatly emphasized the value of technological progress, which was a product of the Enlightenment period, because they saw in this the potential to accumulate vast profits and power under private ownership. As their power grew with the rapid developments in technology, growth of economies, and capitalist accumulation and concentration of wealth/power, so has the utilitarian relationship with nature become grossly exaggerated in the thinking of capitalist ruling classes and their societies. 

Anyway, the author provides much food for thought about what the Luddites' position was in opposition to the introduction of machinery under the private ownership/control of early capitalists.

Pope Francis's climate letter is a radical attack on the logic of the market

Click here to access article by Steffen Böhm from Ecologist. 

Strange that I haven't seen this reported in mainstream media. (sarcasm)
What makes Pope Francis and his 183-page encyclical so radical isn't just his call to urgently tackle climate change.

It's the fact he openly and unashamedly goes against the grain of dominant social, economic and environment policies.

Study: Third of Big Groundwater Basins in Distress

Click here to access article from NASA. 

About one third of Earth's largest groundwater basins are being rapidly depleted by human consumption, despite having little accurate data about how much water remains in them, according to two new studies led by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites.

This means that significant segments of Earth's population are consuming groundwater quickly without knowing when it might run out, the researchers conclude.