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 Lapp√©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Oh Oil, where is thy peak?

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

I have re-posted many articles written by Engdahl relating to geopolitical analysis which have shed much light on the Empire's real policies and intentions. However, with this piece I think that he steps out of his area of competence to attack both climate destabilization forecasts and growing evidence of a Peak Oil future. He is outright dismissive of the former while concentrating his criticism of the latter view by merely citing evidence of new oil discoveries. It's quite easy to show that his arguments regarding the falseness of Peak Oil views are really quite shallow. 

While I don't regard anyone as omniscient, I am very disappointed with Engdahl's shallow reasoning on this important subject. It's clear to me that he has unquestioningly accepted one of capitalism's premises: capitalist exploitation of energy resources to produce goods for profit can continue indefinitely. Thus he picks evidence--limited to new oil discoveries--that supports capitalist ideology of growth forever. All people, especially in major capitalist countries, are subject to indoctrination in capitalist ideology, and those who spend and benefit from many years in higher education are especially subject to this type of indoctrination. This, I think applies to Engdahl. Likewise because of this conditioning, he also ignores the tremendous amount of evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to the destabilization of a climate that can support human life.

 Ignore the current glut of oil on the market today. It's the long term, at least two decades ahead, that is of concern about energy. The collapse in oil prices was caused by the decision of the medieval rulers of Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the directors of the Empire. The latter mainly wanted to undermine the economies of Russia (as they did in the 1980s), Iran, and Venezuela while the Saudi Arabian rulers mostly want to drive out competition from the smaller companies using oil-fracking technologies. 

Thus, what this current oil price collapse and oil glut perpetrated by Empire directors and their Saudi collaborators will be reversed as soon as the impacts become too negative for Saudi and/or Empire interests. The Saudi Arabian government is already taking out loans to balance their government's budget. Meanwhile, many major oil companies based in the US and Britain will simply take advantage of the situation by buying up smaller oil companies at bargain prices. This is precisely why US ruling class directors went along with the Saudis in this scheme. Thus, this incident will only register as a blip on the screen of the world's consumption of fossil fuels over the next several decades.

No serious Peak Oil theorists, as far as I know, have ever argued that accessible oil supplies are diminishing. What they have most convincingly argued is that oil sources that can be economically accessed are diminishing. I am not going to waste time by offering a comprehensive critique of his narrow view regarding Peak Oil, but simply refer to others who have studied and written about Peak Oil for years: Gail Tverberg (who is already arguing that our economies are being threatened by the high cost of energy), Chris Martenson, and Nicole Foss of The Automatic Earth. Just listen to the first 16 minutes of the following lengthy interview with Foss.

It's clear that the continued operation of economies under capitalism are running into a sharp clash with economically accessible fossil fuels, especially oil. Thus she sees simpler societies as the only solution, but this is in sharp conflict with the growth imperative of capitalism.

Campus Carry

Click here to access more of the brief article posted in connection with this cartoon by Jen Sorensen posted on occasional links & commentary.
Many faculty members in Texas are opposed to SB 11, also known as the “campus carry” law. The law provides that license holders may carry concealed handguns in university buildings and classrooms, extending the reach of a previous law that allowed concealed handguns on university grounds.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Zapatistas: Truth and Justice Will Never, Ever, Come from Above

Click here to access article by the Zapatistas from the region of Chiapas, Mexico.

We in the more "advanced" Western countries have much to learn from the Zapatistas--first, and foremost, are the insights contained in this article:
We as Zapatistas, women and men, did not trust those above before, nor do we now, nor will we ever, regardless of the color of their flag, regardless of their style of speech, regardless of their race. If one is above, it is because s/he is oppressing those below.

Those above have no trustworthy word, no honor, no shame, no dignity.
Truth and justice will never, ever, come from above.

We will have to construct them from below.
It's clear to me that many of us living in the "advanced" Western countries have, through many years of indoctrination and propaganda, come to accept as normal total obedience to, and trust in, the authorities who rule over us and control our lives. Their power is based on their private "ownership", under the rules of capitalism, of economies which in reality is a social legacy created by many generations of humans from the advent of human existence over 150,000 years ago. 

The Mystery of ISIS' Toyota Army Solved

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from New Eastern Outlook
The mystery of how hundreds of identical, brand-new ISIS-owned Toyota trucks have made it into Syria is solved. Not only has the US and British government admitted in the past to supplying them, their military forces and intelligence agencies ply the borders of Turkey, Jordan, and even Iraq where these fleets of trucks must have surely passed on their way to Syria – even if other regional actors supplied them. While previous admissions to supplying the vehicles implicates the West directly, that nothing resembling interdiction operations have been set up along any of these borders implicates the West as complicit with other parties also supplying vehicles to terrorists inside of Syria.

Saudi Arabia likely to become a failed state as oil revenues decline

Click here to access article by Nafeez Ahmed from The Parliament.

This elitist European website posts a paper by Ahmed in which he provides a variety of evidence and arguments that the head-chopping medieval kingdom will likely behead itself over the next decade. This, of course, could have all kinds of geopolitical consequences.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Russia Turning The Corner On Sanctions

Click here to access article by Kenneth Rapoza from Forbes

It's not often that I post articles from a prime capitalist source, but this one really amused me for its apolitical globalist capitalist view. Essentially the author is expressing a view that the sanctions imposed on Russia by the Empire may be coming to an end, and now might be a good idea to invest in Russian stocks! 

I believe this illustrates an advanced, pure view of capitalism: it is entirely globalist in its outlook--wherever profits from investments are likely to occur, that is where one should be headed with their money. Contrast this with views coming from capitalist economies outside of the Empire, places such as the BRIC countries, that are trying to pursue an independent nationalist course in a "multi-polar" capitalist world. Such a notion is in direct conflict with the Empire's hegemonic orientation. 

Thus it appears to me that there are three dominant views among capitalists today throughout the world: 1) Empire hegemonic (located in the US and their many associates in NATO countries and Israel), 2) globalist capitalist (located mostly in the US, but also in NATO countries and Israel), and 3) national capitalist (located mostly in the BRIC countries). This article, of course, illustrates the second view. However, it is the hegemonic orientation that rules within the Empire, and that view poses the most immediate and serious problem for world peace.

Meanwhile all these orientations contribute to the longer term, but very disastrous threat of, climate destabilization which likely will result in human extinction. Thus we activists must continue to chart our course toward a sustainable social-economic system between these twin threats: the Scylla of a nuclear war between major powers and the Charybdis of climate destabilization caused by capitalism's growth imperative.

The NATO-Russia face off in Syria

Click here to access article by Pepe Escobar from RT
What the Russian air campaign has already graphically exposed is the whole rotten core myth of the new Jihad International.

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra and assorted Salafi-jihadi goon squads have been kept up and running by a massive financial/logistical/weaponizing “effort” – which includes all sorts of key nodes, from arms factories in Bulgaria and Croatia to transportation routes via Turkey and Jordan. 

As for those Syrian “moderate rebels” – and most of them are not even Syrian, they’re mercenaries – every pebble in the ravaged Sykes-Picot desert sands knows they were trained by the CIA in Jordan. The desert pebbles are also aware that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh goons have been infiltrated into Syria from Turkey – once again, across Hatay province; and vast swathes of ‘the Sultan’s’ Army and police were into the game.

As for who pays the bills for the lavish weaponizing, talk to the proverbial “pious wealthy donors” – incited by their clerics - in the GCC
[Gulf Cooperation Council], the petrodollar arm of NATO. None of these goon squads could possibly thrive for so long without full, multidisciplinary “support” from the usual suspects.

Russian Airstrikes in Syria Expose Cynical US Policy

Click here if you wish to access the below podcast by Eric Draitser from Stop Imperialism

The real movement we need

Click here to access article by Phil of Liverpool, England from libcom

Phil's essay supports his major insight about the difference between grass-roots organizing versus organizing within a labor union whose operations are bound by capitalist ruling class laws.
There are too choices here. We can...build a movement in order to divert people's hope, optimism and energy to the benefit of the Labour Party. Or we can build a real movement to win improvements for our class and take on the present conditions. These two movements aren't the same. They don't even overlap. They are actively at odds.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ecomodernism is Anti-Progress – A View from Asia

Click here to access article by Chandran Nair from degrowth (Germany).

"Ecomodernism" appears to be derived from a recently published paper entitled "An Ecomodernist Manifesto" which has been authored mostly by Western authors. Nair who was born in India and now resides in Singapore presents "A View from Asia". Ecomodernism appear to be another attempt to convince us that science and technological developments will overcome climate destabilization and environmental degradation caused by capitalism.
...the idea rooted in the modern western liberal narrative that free markets and technological advancements, coupled with individual freedoms and the singular pursuit of wealth should be left unfettered to allow for the human condition to realise its full potential, and thereby overcome all our challenges, is a lie. In many ways the ‘manifesto’ is not modern at all. It is anti-progress.

What Does Russia Want in Syria?

Click here to access article by Tony Cartalucci from his blog Land Destroyer Report.

The author explains with documentation how the US capitalist Empire is using its own aggressive and expansionist actions as a propaganda weapon ascribed to Russia. With the Empire's phony war against ISIS and their lies and war crimes becoming clearer as they attempt to topple the Syrian government, their propagandists seem to be becoming increasingly desperate to hide their ultimate goals of eliminating any powers, especially Russia and China, that stand in their way of global domination. 

Once a capitalist class gains control over a nation or complex of nations such as the US dominated Empire (NATO) and become addicted to power and profits while piling on debts, there is only one way out for them: keep launching wars to secure resources, markets, profits, power, and pay off these debts; and eliminate all those who stand in their way. 

The capitalist Axis powers were another would-be Empire to attempt this, but they were up against the Anglo-American capitalist Empire. The end result was WWII. Future wars will be far more devastating and climate destabilization inevitable with the growth imperative of capitalism. With the Russian air force now active over Syria, conflict with US Empire forces has become a real possibility.

The only way for ordinary citizens to save themselves from the ravages of war and climate destabilization is to end the rule of the capitalist system and construct a new system under grassroots control and able to exist in harmony with the natural limits of a finite planet. At this point in time the future of humans does not look promising.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class

Click here to access article by Paul Street from CounterPunch. (a must-read article)
Contemporary history is neither a series of random occurrences nor the predetermined plaything of a small cabal of super-empowered conspirators. The truth is somewhere in-between. A sizeable cadre of class- and system-conscious deep-state and imperial planners from the heights of concentrated private and governmental power join together to shape the outlines of much of recent history. Along with professional class “experts” agreeable to their basic aims, they do so in accord with their shared interests in the endless upward accumulation of wealth and power. They serve the profits system that is still headquartered primarily in the United States even as it develops ever more and varied outposts across a globalizing world.

They exercise vastly disproportionate influence on the course of events and policy largely behind the scenes, in the darkly deceptive name of democracy.
At last there are people really studying the core decision-makers of the Empire and totally ignoring the facade of employed official decision-makers who hangout in Washington DC. 

Street bases this article on Laurence H. Shoup's recently published book by the title Wall Street’s Think Tank: The Council of Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014 from which he quotes extensively. 

I have been an amateur power structure analyst for most of my adult life while struggling in various jobs trying to support myself. I gave up on academia a long time ago because I felt that I would be too constrained to do any serious work. However, there are others who have managed to survive this milieu and have actually thrived. One such person appears to be Lawrence Shoup. I will definitely read his book.

How Putin will Win in Syria

Click here to access article by Mike Whitney from CounterPunch

Whitney provides some illuminating quotes from leading Western media that cast doubts on the Empire's use of terrorist groups in Syria to remove the Assad government of Syria, and the annihilation of all these terrorists, whether Western authorities designate them as "good terrorists" or "bad terrorists", by the more serious Russian air force while complying with international laws.

Not only is Putin exacting retribution for the Empire's subversion of Ukraine, but he may be inflicting a damaging blow to the Empire's phony wars on terrorism, and more. As Whitney remarked:
As we shall undoubtedly see in the months ahead, Syria could very well be the straw that broke the Empire’s back.

Soros-Backed NGO Fakes Photos To Blame Russia For Dead Civilians

Click here to access article by Brandon Turbeville from Activist Post.
Are you ready for a big surprise? Another Soros-connected pro-terrorist NGO in Syria has been caught red-handed faking evidence of “crimes against humanity” allegedly committed by forces who stand in opposition to the goals of the NATO/U.S. ruling elite.

OK, well, maybe it is not a big surprise. In fact, it is not a surprise at all given that, ever since the Syrian crisis began (and in the time leading up to the crisis), NGOs have been on the ground in Syria stirring up jihadist resentment against the secular government of Bashar al-Assad and fabricating “crimes” committed by that government.

The only new development here is that the NGO, Soros-connected “White Helmets,” are claiming that the Russians are the humanitarian criminals.

It’s Alive! TPP Gets Signed, Democracy Dies A Little More

Click here to access article by "Don Quijones" from his blog Raging Bull-Shit.
If you are a resident (the word “citizen” no longer seems fitting) of the U.S.A, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Brunei, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Australia or New Zealand, your elected government just sold you, your family, friends and everybody else you know down the river. Without a paddle. ....

Grasping for a ray of hope, Naked Capitalism’s Lambert Strether points out that the text of TPP has not yet been finalized and once it has, it will have to be ratified by lawmakers in each country against a backdrop of intensifying public opposition. ...the pressure on TPP’s 12 signatory nations to comply over the coming months will be almost unbearable. After all, the success of the U.S. empire’s so-called “Asian pivot” hinges on the signing of TPP. 
For more comments on this agreement, see this article entitled "Nine Thoughts On the TPP Agreement Being Reached Today" by Nick Deardon. 

"It's Ba-ack!" Editorial cartoon by Gregory Crawford. From World News Trust.

Foreign Policy Diary – Europe to build up new centers of power

Click here to access article from South Front.

I had difficulty accessing the excellent video posted on their website which specializes in geopolitical analysis. Here it is via YouTube.

People, who believe that the European Union is a monolithic entity that conducts business that benefits individual European nations, have made a huge mistake. Today, the EU is a crumbling bureaucratic intergovernmental organization with several centers of power serving their own interests. Each of these are seeking to convert the EU into a super state controlling Western Eurasian, exploiting its nations, borderlands and a number of third world countries through a sophisticated set of economic and political tools. The competition among European and external players affecting developments of the union is ongoing for the right to become the main control center of the arising super state. So it was yesterday and so it is today. But, very soon, the EU political model will be changed under the influence of sharp internal circumstances and external crises.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism

Click here to access article which features a transcript of Eric Draitser's interview with Michael Hudson which was podcasted a few weeks ago.  

Although I've valued Hudson's insights about finance capitalism and posted many of his articles, I've always experienced some discomfort when reading his posts. This morning I'd like to begin to explore where that discomfort lies not only with this particular lengthy article, but with his whole perspective. Thus my critique of his ideological position is a bit tentative and not yet fully formed.

It dawned on me this morning that Hudson is really like so many middle-class critics of neoliberalism in which finance plays a major role: they see the obvious dysfunction for societies as a whole of this advanced form of capitalism and want to return to industrial capitalism in which their class played such an important role. The middle-class see their roles in monopoly and neoliberal capitalism as diminishing; and they are not only concerned about their own future, but especially that of their children's future in this advanced stage.

I believe that Hudson's view of capitalism distorts a number of insights contributed by various social critics and ideologists who wrote about capitalism during its several hundred years of existence. This is necessary because he must separate out this current "bad" form of advanced capitalism--finance, monopoly, and neoliberal capitalism--from the "good" stage of industrial capitalism.

For example, his take on Marx's labor theory of value.
...there’s often a misinterpretation of the context in which the labor theory of value was formulated and refined. The reason why Marx and the other classical economists – William Petty, Smith, Mill and the others – talked about the labor theory of value was to isolate that part of price that wasn’t value. Their purpose was to define economic rent as something that was not value. It was extraneous to production, and was a free lunch – the element of price that is charged to consumers and others that has no basis in labor, no basis in real cost, but is purely a monopoly price or return to privilege. ....

The aim of the labor theory of value was to divide the economy between excessive price gouging and labor.
I think this is a gross misinterpretation of Marx's concept. To me, it's really very simple: anything of value in any economy can only be created by labor through physical and/or mental work. Labor does this by using their brains and/or muscles to transform materials or ideas into products that people want. 

Thus the early English and Dutch capitalist settlers on the American continent realized the vast potential for riches in this undeveloped continent, and saw only "savages" and the need of labor standing in their way of vast wealth accumulation. With their superior weapons they rapidly eliminated opposition by Native Americans who refused to be enslaved, but they still needed huge amounts of labor. Because they could not get enough of this supply from Europe, they used violence to enslave and import Africans to furnish this labor. These early capitalists provided both mental labor and capital (stored labor value) to transform the natural resources of the continent into products. It didn't matter how much wealth (stored labor value) these early capitalists brought over from Europe, they had to have labor to create more value.

Many early capitalist ideologists mixed up these different contributions: capital and mental labor to justify the capitalist "property right" to take as much as he wanted above what was necessary to maintain his labor force whether owned (slaves) or rented (wages, salaried). 

Eventually they engaged in "price gouging" through the inevitable increasing concentration of "ownership" of sections of the economy. But that has nothing to do with Marx's labor theory of value. Over time these old entrepreneurial capitalists evolved into pure capitalists by supplying only capital through investments, forming banks, etc, where speculation about obtaining profits became their sole contribution. Now in this neoliberal stage of capitalism we see international industrial corporations and banks diminishing the power of national governments, whether fake democratic or autocratic, and increasing the power of international capitalists. 

We are also witnessing the sophisticated development of information technologies and automation which is diminishing the need for the middle class (managers, teachers, highly skilled technicians, other professionals) which is what people like Hudson are concerned about.

Nuclear War And Corbyn – The Fury And The Farce

Click here to access article from Media Lens (Britain).

What passes for a left in both Europe and the USA keep looking for "heroes" to deliver them from the evil of advanced capitalism. In the US many have gravitated to Sen. Bernie Sanders who is running in primary elections as a candidate for president. The Zionist senator, although he often supports social welfare policies, has never met an Empire war he didn't support. However Jeremy Corbyn looks a lot more authentic, but still real change in Britain's participation in Empire adventures will never be possible without a significant revolution that overturns the rule of capital in Britain. Either Corbyn will keep compromising his views until they are satisfactory to Britain's ruling capitalist class, or he will be marginalized or eliminated one way or another. Only an organized working class engaged at the grass roots can save themselves. Forget about heroes coming to save us.

The Strange Case of the Syrian Opposition

Click here to access article Gordon Duff from Veterans Today.
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has cited concerns that Russia may be hitting the wrong targets in Syria.  Does Carter believe that a Syrian opposition group utterly and absolutely divorced from terrorist allegiances exists?
Thanks to "The Saker" at A bird's eye view of the Vineyard for alerting us to the following satirical cartoon.

Bad terrorist, good terrorist

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Russia's Campaign To Snuff Off The CIA's Al-Qaeda Forces

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.

The author pulls together solid evidence to undermine all the false reports issued by corporate media talking heads and various government officials. The links following this statement are the most important:
The CIA mercenaries in Syria - 10,000 men trained, armed and paid under a secret program - are directly cooperating with al-Qaeda and the likewise terrorist Ahrar al Shams. The NYT finally acknowledges this in two pieces today.
I came across this article posted yesterday by the Sunday Express (Britain) which announced in the headline "ISIS left so weakened by airstrikes and desertion it could be destroyed in just HOURS". Although the US has been supposedly attacking ISIS forces for over a year, maybe this is just a coincidence after the Russian air-force attacked terrorist targets in just the last several days. Of course the British website credited both "Western and more recently Russian airstrikes".

Mid-East Coup: As Russia Pounds Militant Targets, Iran Readies Ground Invasions While Saudis Panic

Click here to access article by Tyler Durden from Zero Hedge.

Durden digs up some very interesting Reuter's reports in support of the headline. Although I think he overstates Iran's impending ground invasion--a few hundred troops don't matter much--from what I've read, Iran is mostly sending military advisors. Putin and his allies are clearly playing a very clever geopolitical chess game vis-√†-vis the Empire. In any case, the situation is very dangerous given the vitally strategic importance of the Mid-East to the Empire. 
...Putin looks to have viewed this as the ultimate geopolitical win-win. That is, Russia gets to i) expand its influence in the Middle East in defiance of Washington and its allies, a move that also helps to protect Russian energy interests and preserves the Mediterranean port at Tartus, and ii) support its allies in Tehran and Damascus thus preserving the counterbalance to the US-Saudi-Qatar alliance. 

El Salvador vs Pacific Rim: The Price of Saying ‘No’ to a Gold Mine

Click here to access article by Ciara Nugent from The Argentina Independent

Gold mining is one of the most polluting mining industries there are, and El Salvadorians through their government refused to allow a mining company to continue to pollute their water supplies and are now facing a $301 million lawsuit.

North American mining corporations have been most notorious for using violent tactics to gain access to various metals throughout Latin America. Pacific Rim, a Canadian gold mining company, is one such corporation. The details are a bit complicated, but what is clear is that they first used terrorist tactics to mine gold in El Salvador, then they gained access to a legal weapon through the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism that has become a part of all "free trade" agreements. Read the article to find out what El Salvadorians, and all smaller countries, are up against with this weapon while fighting for clean water and healthy environments in their respective countries. Once again, it's the people versus powerful international capitalists whose corporations have the sole legally defined purpose as profits.
To challenge El Salvador’s rejection of their project, Pacific Rim activated the ISDS – investor-state dispute settlement provisions. Written into most trade agreements these days, and due to be expanded under the massive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the ISDS allows companies to challenge the decisions of governments that might be said to affect their investments in the country. The main forum for these cases, including El Salvador’s, is the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). It was established by the World Bank in 1966, and currently has more than 200 ISDS cases pending.

The ISDS is built into a free-trade agreement between the US and the countries of Central America. Pacific Rim initially gained access to this clause by transferring part of its business to the US, via a subsidiary.