We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth

Click here to access article by John Pilger from CounterPunch

Pilger, an Australian journalist, knows first hand how media under the ownership of corporations have turned information into pure propaganda to serve the capitalist ruling classes, especially those associated with the US-led Empire. He introduces a new book entitled The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire which is a collection of essays authored by people associated with Wikileaks. 

If it is true that "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" as I was taught by my Sunday school teacher, then the works of Wikileaks must be one of the most blessed activities of contemporary women and men. However, the secular authorities, much like the earlier Romans with their treatment of Christians, have essentially "crucified" people like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning who have revealed the truth. 
In an American-owned world, independence is intolerable.

This book reveals these truths, one after the other.  The truth about a war on terror that was always a war of terror; the truth about Guantanamo, the truth about Iraq, Afghanistan, Latin America.

Never has such truth-telling been so urgently needed.  

A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists

Click here to access article by Gary Leupp from CounterPunch.

It must be difficult for White Press Secretaries and other official spokespeople for the Empire when they must knowingly lie to their audiences. Leupp illustrates a kind of prep-sheet that they must use when facing audiences who likely know at least some of the real truth.

VW chose profit over the planet

Click here to access article by Tyler Zimmer from Socialist Worker.
The public will be encouraged to conclude that this scandal is the result of cynical, deceptive actions on the part of a few corporate executives--"a few bad apples"--at the top of Volkswagen. But thinking about the issue in this way would be a mistake, since it would lead us to overlook the larger, systemic problems with capitalism that this scandal reveals.
All corporations must choose profit over the planet and everything else. Because all corporations must preserve and increase market share, because our societies are governed by these same disciples of capitalism, because the same people own our media and these people will make sure that their media coverage will narrowly focuse on this "one bad apple" while providing a deluge of messages about "green capitalism", Volkswagen will receive a slap on the wrist with a fine which will be regarded as a cost of doing business, and no executives will go to jail. You see, crime pays when perpetrated by a major corporation.

The problem is not Volkswagen, it is capitalism. Yes, the problem is systemic!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Propaganda War Begins: Russia's Syria Strikes Targeted US-Backed "Moderate" Rebels, West Says

Click here to access article by Tyler Durden from Zero Hedge
With the US having officially lost control of the narrative in Syria now that The Kremlin has called Washington’s bluff on the battle to eradicate ISIS and eliminate the Sunni extremist elements that threaten to wrest control of Syria from President Bashar al-Assad, the only remaining question after Russian lawmakers officially cleared the way for airstrikes was how long it would be before the Western media began shouting about Russian warplanes bombing targets that aren’t affiliated with ISIS.
Because I have been busy with visiting relatives, I have seen only a little of the outrageous reporting from corporate media that Durden much more fully describes in this article. It seems in the minds of our "minders", there are good Al Quedas and bad Al Quedas, or good terrorists and bad terrorists, much like the way George W. Bush described his simple-minded view of the world after 9/11: "you are either with us or against us". Russia is bombing both terrorists to our ruling class's displeasure. Of course the "us" refers to the Empire's rich and powerful ruling capitalist class who regard the Assad government of Syria to be a problem for their interests in the oil-rich Middle East, and thus is pretending to use "good terrorists" to bring Assad down. In reality there is no distinction.

How Britain’s Propaganda Machine Controls What You Think

Click here to access article by Graham Vanbergen from TruePublica (Britain).

The author describes the concentration of the media by the powerful rich who furnish information that serves the rich but strongly shapes how ordinary people think. 
In terms of Britain’s media, the reality is that there are 5 billionaires who run our media, and they have huge power in our democracy forcing our political parties to prioritize their wishes over the wishes of the British public. These 5 people not only own 80% of the newspapers we read every day, they also own TV stations, press agencies, book companies, cinemas, so everything we think or speak about in Britain is nearly controlled entirely by these 5 men.
The essential features of the concentration of media ownership/control in Britain are the same here in the US, but the details are a little different. The only criticism I have is that he, like many others, keeps maintaining the fiction that we have or had "democracy" under capitalist rule. It was only a fake version which is often referred to in left-wing literature as "bourgeois democracy". His view is another illustration of a middle class perspective that sees, along with the growing extreme inequality, a threat to middle class privileges and opportunities.

US Upstaged at UN General Assembly - Who's to Blame?

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook.
The UN General Assembly this year celebrated its 70th anniversary which is why more leaders than usual attended and participated. While the speeches were typical and mostly irrelevant for people already well-informed about world events, there was one particular point to note that made this gathering more telling than most.

It wasn’t a point that could be discerned by simply watching the speeches play out on the floor of the General Assembly hall, but rather revealed itself in the reaction to the speeches by American policymakers online.

The 23rd of September was the annual opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Because it marks the 70th session in which many, many world leaders were in attendance and over a hundred have made speeches during the following days.
Just as an illustration of the bias of our corporate mainstream media, I would like you to google "UN General Assembly" and select the past month (under "Search tools") to view the selection of articles. Of the twelve entries that I found on the first page, four referred to a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now compare this with the provisional list of the over one hundred world leaders that spoke at these sessions.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Earning a profit from global warming

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from Systemic Disorder. (I regard this as a "best post".)

As the Paris climate summit scheduled for December approaches, we are witnessing several major governments making promises about efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is strictly an effort to cover for their past failures in reducing carbon pollution in our atmosphere and to keep their population believing that they are making serious efforts at preventing a disastrous destabilization of our climate. Dolack writes about these propagandistic efforts while the real actions of capitalist ruling classes, like the neoliberal trade proposals, only increase the problem. 

His argument leads inevitably to the conclusion that the dynamics of capitalism is in sharp contradiction to a planet that can sustain human life. Thus the only real solution is revolution.
To stave off further global warming, and avoid the massive disruptions it promises, requires nothing less than an entirely new economic system, one that provides for human need under community control rather than private profit under the control of industrialists and financiers.  

US Complains As Russia Bombs its Terrorists

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook.
The New York Times in its recent article, "Russians Strike Targets in Syria, but Not ISIS Areas," attempts to frame Russia's recent actions in Syria as dishonest and dangerous. It reports:
Russian aircraft carried out a bombing attack against Syrian opposition fighters on Wednesday, including at least one group trained by the C.I.A., eliciting angry protests from American officials and plunging the complex sectarian war there into dangerous new territory.
This of course would only make Russia's actions dishonest or dangerous if groups trained by the US CIA were in fact the "moderates" the US claims they are. However, they are not, and thus Russia's actions are duly justified as is the expansion of their current policy.
US Ruling class media propagandists are having to work overtime trying to cover all their lies and schemes about supporting "moderate rebels" in an effort to topple the elected government of President Bashar al-Assad. It is clear that our masters support "democracy" or elections only when it is in their interest, and support corrupt medieval kingdoms when it is in their interest. Their sole interest is power and profits. The challenge for their propagandists is to cover this interest with legitimate reasons wrapped in "democratic" ideology.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What's Called "Capitalism" Is Far from Any Model of Capitalism or Market

Click here to access article by "Gaius Publius" from Down with Tyranny!.

I don't like to post articles like this, but they are appearing all too frequently on the web to ignore. This piece is another prime example of a middle-class person defending the system from which he/she have reaped so many rewards in the past. These people are much like "house niggers", who Malcolm X referred to, loyally serving the plantation owner while enjoying many privileges denied to the "field niggers".

With the system increasingly showing signs of distress and extreme inequality, they are coming to its defense. They are desperately searching for ways to defend capitalism by using various arguments: we only need to be more vigilant and we can fix what ails the system (see this for example and my critique), we can elect people who will reform the system and make it work better, or as in this article, what we have really isn't capitalism at all!
Simply put, we're not living in a "capitalist" economy, and present economic activity is not properly described by the word "market." To see and say that completely misses the facts.
The author only recognizes that we are in a "neoliberal period", but refuses to acknowledge that this has anything to do with capitalism. Apparently someone stole the wonderful system of capitalism from us one night and slipped in this other thing which he/she describes as the following:
Economic predation by the powerful is not an economic system in any sophisticated sense, any more than organized bullies stealing every child's lunch money the minute she enters the building is a "system" in any complex sense. It's not even a "racket" if that term implies misdirection and a multi-step process. It's just boots on the neck and hands in the pocket. 
Well, to me that describes some of the end results of capitalist development. Other results are what we witness everyday: never-ending wars, a few islands of rich among oceans of poor, climate destabilization, environmental destruction, etc.

Orwell at the UN: Obama Re-Defines Democracy as a Country That Supports U.S. Policy

Click here to access article by Michael Hudson from CounterPunch.
A century ago the word “democracy” referred to a nation whose policies were formed by elected representatives. Ever since ancient Athens, democracy was contrasted to oligarchy and aristocracy. But since the Cold War and its aftermath, that is not how U.S. politicians have used the term. When an American president uses the word “democracy,” he means a pro-American country following U.S. neoliberal policies, no matter if the country is a military dictatorship or its government was brought in by a coup (euphemized as a Color Revolution) as in Georgia or Ukraine. A “democratic” government has been re-defined simply as one supporting the Washington Consensus, NATO and the IMF. It is a government that shifts policy-making out of the hands of elected representatives to an “independent” central bank, whose policies are dictated by the oligarchy centered in Wall Street, the City of London and Frankfurt.
Hudson places too much emphasis on Obama's UN speech in which the latter he re-defines "democracy". Obama is, of course, merely following the script handed to him by his capitalist class handlers like all the other presidents since John Kennedy. Kennedy was determined to follow a more independent foreign policy and thus was assassinated. Elsewhere Hudson accurately indicates that this concept of "democracy" has been used by many other presidents in recent history. ("When an American president uses the word “democracy,” he means a pro-American country following U.S. neoliberal policies....") So, there is nothing unique about Obama.

Beginning in the 1930s Orwell saw many applications of propaganda to serve the interests of power. No doubt he compared his direct experience in Spain's civil war, in which he fought, with the coverage provided by those allied with Anglo-American capitalists, fascist capitalists, and the Soviet Union. They all had their own interests and their own agenda with regard to Spain, and their media reflected those interests regardless of the realities of the conflict. To people like Orwell the Spanish Civil War was both extremely disillusioning and revealing.

With the ascendancy of the overwhelming power of the US after WWII, the ruling capitalist class saw a huge vacuum that they could fill. Over the years since the war, those foreign capitalists who followed the lead of the US were integrated into what has become a US-led Empire intent on global domination. 

Meanwhile the technology of propaganda was perfected and its usefulness increased. It was seen as a cost-effective way of not only managing opinion of their domestic populations, but taming and co-opting opposition all over the world. It's use was not confined to news reporting, but to all ideological institutions, especially to entertainment and education. Hollywood movies were distributed all over the world carrying many subliminal messages selling the American way of life, a largely mythical construct suggesting materialist values of consumerism and a fake version of "democracy". 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Power of False Narrative

Click here to access article by Robert Parry from ConsortiumNews.
In this age of pervasive media, the primary method of social control is through the creation of narratives delivered to the public through newspapers, TV, radio, computers, cell phones and any other gadget that can convey information. This reality has given rise to an obsession among the power elite to control as much of this messaging as possible.

So, regarding U.S. relations toward the world, we see the State Department, the White House, Pentagon, NATO and other agencies pushing various narratives to sell the American people and other populations on how they should view U.S. policies, rivals and allies. The current hot phrase for this practice is “strategic communications” or Stratcom, which blends psychological operations, propaganda and P.R. into one mind-bending smoothie.
Parry writes about the application of Stratcom methods to shape the perception of Americans in support of the Empire's agenda since 1980. Stratcom methods have been honed and perfected from its antecedents developed by the CIA following WWII which I summarized in a recent post
...since WWII there have been a number of reports mostly from a few mainstream sources or alternative media of increasing involvement of secret government agencies attempting to shape news, information, and entertainment. In the 1960s from Ramparts magazine we learned about CIA infiltration of the media in the 1950s. In 2007 Carl Bernstein reported in Rolling Stone magazine about the continuing CIA involvement with major media. We still see occasional reports from credible sources about CIA and other government past attempts to shape news and entertainment that major corporations publish or broadcast, but they usually imply that this is not happening today. A few credible sources allege that this still exists today both in the US and in Europe.
Actually I agree with Paul Craig Roberts that the CIA is in control of this program in what he refers to as "a Ministry of Propaganda for Washington". 

UK Labour Party conference begins under leadership of Corbyn

Click here to access article by Chris Marsden from World Socialist Web Site.
The Blair and Brownites are a despised and hated minority. But they have the backing of the ruling class, the media and the Tories in the fight to discredit and drive out Corbyn and his supporters. They may calculate that their weakened position does not allow for a frontal assault, but they will do everything and anything to maintain Labour as a pro-business and pro-war party.

Their greatest political advantage lies in the opponent they face, Corbyn. At every juncture, he stresses the political imperative of maintaining party unity at all costs, even under conditions where he is backed by many thousands of ordinary members.

His brief time at the helm has seen one political retreat after another, especially whenever he has been attacked by the media. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Western Media Is Dying and Here’s Why

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci by New Eastern Outlook.

Cartalucci uses the example of Seymour Hersh to prove his point that Western media is degenerating into well-designed propaganda with this one example; but this example, in conjunction with a lot of other evidence of media concentration and CIA infiltration of major media, does show a trend to what Paul Craig Roberts describes as western media being "a Ministry of Propaganda for Washington". Based on my activist experience over the past 60 years, I have to agree with both Roberts and Cartalucci.

Over the years Hersh has exposed Western media coverage and government-sourced reports to the light of factual evidence which has resulted in the discrediting of these reports. There were always a few--well maybe one source that would always publish his exposés--the New Yorker, but most recently this publisher refused when Hersh seriously questioned government reports, and those showing up its echo chamber of mainstream media, about the use of chemical weapons attributed to the Syrian government. 

Under the ownership and control of the capitalist ruling class, major media have always been used to serve their interests. Even FDR during the 1930s frequently complained about the negative reports published by mainstream media toward his New Deal policies when he was enjoying overwhelming support in elections and in public opinion polls. During the early 20th century there were many journalists who likewise complained about the censorship they experienced, and they, like Upton Sinclair, if they had resources, were often forced to self-publish. 

But since WWII there have been a number of reports mostly from a few mainstream sources or alternative media of increasing involvement of secret government agencies attempting to shape news, information, and entertainment. In the 1960s from Ramparts magazine we learned about CIA infiltration of the media in the 1950s. In 2007 Carl Bernstein reported in Rolling Stone magazine about the continuing CIA involvement with major media. We still see occasional reports from credible sources about CIA and other government past attempts to shape news and entertainment that major corporations publish or broadcast, but they usually imply that this is not happening today. A few credible sources allege that this still exists today both in the US and in Europe.

Quote: Capitalism

Click here to access article by Peter Radford from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

I loved this article not because it contains any great insights--because it has none--but because it concisely expresses a quintessential liberal position in the political spectrum of the US. 

The term "liberal" as used here has a history behind it. It is the democratic ideology tacked onto capitalist ideology which early capitalists originally used to enlist the support of workers in their struggle to overthrow the rule of monarchy and aristocracy. Since their successful revolutions across the Western world, they have continued to use this ideology to justify the rule of this tiny class over the large mass of workers. 

Pure capitalists always needed workers as managers, scientists, highly skilled technicians, and other professionals, especially ideologists, to manage their societies in their interests. These people became known as the "middle class". They enjoyed higher remuneration, many perks that come with salaried positions, and other privileges such as social contacts with capitalists that were denied to workers. Thus, they have been thoroughly co-opted to serve the ruling capitalists in their efforts to exploit workers and the environment. Nowadays we see them very active as propagandists trying to cover over the many cracks of capitalist rule, trying to defend the latter's rule as social and economic conditions for middle class people especially in the US continue to decline along with deteriorating conditions for most workers.

However in the past few decades which saw the advances in technology especially in automation, the rapid development electronic technologies enabling almost instant means communication and processing of data, and the advances of artificial intelligence, capitalists' need for large numbers of middle class people has been declining. This is reflected in the increasing costs of advanced education necessary to train such people, and the number of university graduates with large debts who work in low paying jobs.

Hence, the need for liberal middle class ideologists (notice he describes them as "on the left") to continue their efforts to reassure everyone that the system can work if only we can all make greater efforts to salvage some vaguely defined ideal state of capitalism.
...it behooves us on the left to remember that we have the antidote to capitalism at hand. It is a force that allows us to constrain capital and make it work for all of us and not just the ownership class. And it is a force that allows us to accomplish the redistribution of the fruits of economic advance without risking the loss of that advance.
I kept waiting for his great insight about this "force", but left with only an exhortation that we need to make greater efforts to curb the ravenous capitalist appetite for more wealth and power.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Capitalism in the 21st century

Click here to access article by Asad Zaman from The Express Tribune.

Capitalist class directors were caught off-guard by one of their most prestigious sociologists, Thomas Piketty, who it would seem slipped through all the barriers that academics must navigate around to attain high status. He defied his long years of indoctrination by writing this book which contains abundant evidence to prove, what most workers instinctively know, that capitalists capture most of the wealth that workers produce which, in turn, gives them more power over us. This dynamic, of course, works contrary to all their pretensions about supporting democracy.
...he goes far beyond the compilation of statistics and provides a grand unified theory about the deep forces which have shaped human history over centuries. His analysis points out a fundamental conflict between free markets and democracy, directly contrary to widely accepted conventional wisdom that the two go together. 

Syria Turns The Corner

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama

Bernhard, based on his sources, sees events in Syria changing--and for the better--due to Russian intervention and possibly Chinese.
Erdogan pissed off Russia, China and, with his war against Kurds, also the United States. All at the same time. You don't mess with all three superpowers at once without serious personal consequences.

The collapse of the Syrian government would be a disaster for everyone. Erdogan and his "western" friends made fools of themselves with their childish "Assad must go" blathering. With the grown ups taking over this nonsense has now, hopefully, come to an end.

Why Saudi Ties to 9/11 Mean U.S. Ties to 9/11

Click here to access article by Kevin Ryan from his blog Dig Within

According to Paul Craig Roberts:
Kevin Ryan, a science/engineering employee of the firm that certified the steel used in the construction of the World Trade Center skyscrapers, realized that the official explanation of the destruction of the three skyscrapers was false. Steel does not, and cannot, behave in the way that the official explanation says.
Ryan lists a number of ties that key US ruling class figures and well-connected security personnel of the FBI and CIA had with Saudi Arabians who were involved in the 9/11 attack. Following this list, he concludes:
...it is not surprising that people who hear claims of Saudi involvement in 9/11 wonder why the discussion remains so limited and always avoids the glaring implications those claims should entail.

When people start to ask questions

The cartoon below was created by R.J. Matson

Although the lower class vastly outnumbers the middle class, this cartoon emphases growing doubts among the middle class due to diminishing opportunities for them in the economy. This is because the middle class (managers, scientists, highly skilled technicians, and other professionals) makes the system work for the rich ruling class of capitalists, and in the past they have been well rewarded for their services. However, "the times they are a changin'" as portrayed in this cartoon--capitalists no longer need as many of these highly trained people. Thus, we are now seeing many more of them asking questions about the system.