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, April 9, 2016
It seems that during presidential election years all the liberal-leftists are inspired by an approved liberal candidate (this election year it is Sen. Bernie Sanders) to formulate a new "radical" agenda which turns out to be a reform of the capitalist system to make it a kinder, gentler capitalism (an oxymoron). Such is the agenda in this piece and endorsed by many such people. (Yesterday I posted a European version of a reformist agenda.)
I've seen these come and go (after every election) every four years for the last 60 years. The capitalist ruling class love all the excitement they can muster regarding their well-managed elections. It helps to legitimate them by collecting and encouraging all the disillusioned people to participate in them.
I really don't like to sound cynical, and I'm really not. I just hate to see these quadrennial feasts of reformist illusions. I am thoroughly convinced by personal experience and history that capitalism cannot be reformed. (Read this post's commentary.) The best reforms in American history were accomplished during the FDR administration in the 1930s that promoted New Deal policies. This was after a devastating Wall Street crash and world-wide economic collapse, the emergence of many truly radical movements in the US, and only 16 years after the first workers' revolution in Russia that established the Soviet Union. US capitalists were shaking in their boots over the threat that the radical movements posed to their rule. Thus they--and not without vigorous dissent and an attempted coup--permitted F. Roosevelt to hold office and work his mild reformist policies into the fabric of government to reduce the pressure from these popular movements.
The only way to create social justice and to live sustainably with nature is to abolish the rule of capitalists and put an end to their system. They will never permit their system to be significantly reformed. Thus the construction of a serious movement to overthrow their rule must be undertaken everyday for at least the next decade to end this cancer that will destroy us all if we fail. As you can imagine, this effort will require a lot more than showing up on one day to vote for the latest Bernie Sanders in capitalist controlled elections.
The author reviews much of the housing history of the US, including attempts to fund public housing, to illustrate how even a fundamental need such as housing cannot be met in a socially just way by an economy governed by capitalist principles simply because under capitalism profits always take precedence over vital social needs.
A so-called non-profit entity, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), cherry-picking information from a purported leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. In turn, the findings of this consortium were provided to a network of over 100 media partners, including some of the largest newspapers in the world. What was not reported by the newspapers, all too eager to stenographically report what they were provided by the consortium, is that ICIJ is financially supported by George Soros's Open Society Foundations and the Central Intelligence Agency-directed US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Bernhard furnishes the proof:
The United States via its Central Intelligence Agency is still delivering thousands of tons of additional weapons to al-Qaeda and others in Syria.
The British military information service Janes found the transport solicitation for the shipment on the U.S. government website FedBizOps.gov.
While the Republican Party appears to be increasingly unwelcoming to neoconservatives, they may have found a way back into power through aligning with Hillary Clinton and her related organizations. Former Secretary Clinton is campaigning on nostalgia for the economic prosperity of 1990s, but might not a President Hillary Clinton be more likely to bring us back to the George W. Bush years?
Friday, April 8, 2016
The author points out the ever widening gap of human nature as seen in classical capitalist economics with that seen in business schools known as "behavioral economics".
I think that this divergence can be explained mostly by the tendency of capitalists to overproduce. This occurs because of the obsession of capitalists for profits which usually transfers into a viscous cycle of seeking power to acquire more profits and power which inevitably results in a capitalist ruling class that is in control of every institution in society. This has now become an historical fact.
All this gradually occurred after capitalists were able to satisfy the basic needs of most people, and as a result profits suffered. Capitalists then sought the help of marketing specialists to create the need for ever increasing frivolous products and services, and eventually the provision of credit was added to promote more purchases of these frivolous products and services along with basic needs.
The end result, as we have seen throughout capitalist history, was economic booms and busts which created social chaos: wars over resources and markets, extreme unemployment, poverty, etc. Lately their excessive activity has become associated with the destabilization of the climate. In spite of the dysfunctional nature for a healthy, sustainable development of societies, capitalists, probably because of all the power they have accumulated, have thus far been successful in maintaining their system in spite of all the chaos and instability they are creating. The practice of their system now threatens humans with extinction caused by an increased likelihood of a nuclear war conflagration and/or extreme climate destabilization.
I occasionally post articles that I condemn. This is one of them.
Notice throughout the piece that it is solely interested in reforming capitalist rule of societies in order to make the lives of the vast majority of non-capitalists better. This is a major detour from what the original orientation of ROAR (Reflections on a Revolution) before it became co-opted by a Dutch equity fund called Democracy & Media Foundation. It is a detour that leads not to revolution but to reformism. Gone are any articles that relate to revolution and in their places we see mostly liberal pieces complaining about actual functioning capitalism. This article (signed by a number of "left" activists) illustrates once again what happens when a revolutionary organization is taken over by a capitalist organization. It also furnishes more evidence justifying my original concern about this reorganization that I expressed back in February.
Gary Brumback is obviously an older American who, like myself, has watched the American nation slowly deteriorate into something that looks like a fascist government: extreme inequality and authoritarian imperial government built on the foundation of corporations to serve the megalomania of a tiny segment of our society.
I once believed in the old saying that things would have to get worse before they can get better. I've been waiting for forty years for this to happen, and I am wondering if it ever will, and especially before I reach my expiry date.
This article is not pleasant reading. It shares with younger people the profound dismay that older activists such as myself have who have watched the US sink ever deeper into the swamp of fascism. In the second half of the essay Brumback tries to be more affirmative by sharing with us what he thought was necessary to turn things in a positive direction (his "Alter America campaign"). Having failed at this campaign, at his advanced age Brumback sees the necessity of passing the mantle of activism to younger generations to come up with their solutions.
If there is any merit to the proposed Alter America campaign the most compelling question becomes how to jump-start it. I am at a loss for an answer. My previous answers and attempts have all failed. I may have some cache within a relatively small professional niche but none outside it. I am easily ignored. I have never been able to coax luminaries into helping me implement my proposals. Now, at my age, I am going to leave the matter entirely up to others if any are interested.
White House Makes a Big Deal of New Heroin Efforts--But Says Nothing about Stemming the Flow or Why We're Still at War in Narco-State Afghanistan
I have recently noticed many news reports over local media (Washington state) citing an epidemic of heroin addictions and trafficking (read this and this). It would seem to me that solving this problem would be easy for law enforcement simply by interrogating low level distributors to find out who their supplier are, and then to reach on up to major suppliers. But nothing of such efforts is reported. "War on Drugs"--what war on drugs? John Erlichman, an intimate member of the Nixon administration that created this "war", was right when he recently reported what the "war" was really about. Instead of police reports about their efforts to halt the distribution of heroin, we see many reports of the problem only in terms of sensationalism and the lack of treatment facilities.
Anyway Nass provides an excellent report with a lot of questions about the epidemic and the extensive growing operations in Afghanistan.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
[Talk delivered at the conference “Человек vs. отчуждение” in Moscow (supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Moscow) by our editor Mihály Koltai.]
In my talk I would like to provide some observations and intuitions on what one might call the psychological basis of contemporary neoliberalism. These are attitudes and engrained habits that one is essentially forced to adopt, contributing to the day-to-day reproduction of the current form of highly unequal and – as I would argue – more and more sadistic form of capitalism, that we can call neoliberalism.
Over the last month France has been rocked by mass protests, occupations and strikes, as a new generation takes to the streets to expresses its rage at labor reforms and growing inequality. Over a million people have mobilized across the country to say on vaut mieux que ça — “we are worth more than this.”Also read this piece on the same subject entitled "Scores arrested as French labour reform protest turns violent" from France 4.
Cartalucci explains how the US-British sponsored puppet, Aung San Suu Kyi, has distorted constitutional government in order to maintain her rule and the many decades-old Empire policy of containing China.
American and British media agencies are celebrating the nomination and ascension by Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi of her driver and aid as "president," as well as her pledge to "rule above" the president - effectively rendering the office as symbolic and subordinate to the unelected Suu Kyi.
This post provides another illustration of how the justice system handles capitalist's crimes different from worker's crimes. When capitalist Blankenship committed 29 murders while in pursuit of profits, he is convicted of a misdemeanor. When a worker commits a murder while trying to gain money to feed his family, he is frequently sentenced to death.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Your interest in tax havens may have been piqued by the many articles featuring reports about the Panama Papers. The absence of Americans in these disclosures and the obvious political use of this event (see this, this, and this) by US ruling class media against their opponents apparently caused NBC to attempt some sort of "explanation". Anyway this focus on Panama distracts people from probably the world's number one tax haven: the City of London. This article tells us about the history of this tax free zone used by capitalists to avoid paying their taxes.
Secrecy and deception allows capitalists all over the world to bypass any democratic laws requiring them to pay taxes. Did you really think that the capitalist pseudo form of democracy and its laws would ever be permitted to pose problems for their interests of power and wealth?
“We have broken no laws and cooperated with the government at all times.”Malone explains what is really meant by these exculpatory statements.
Variations of that statement seem to be the default defence of everyone from bankers to politicians when their names come up in the Panama Papers.
He concludes his essay by observing:
It has been and remains just the way the system they profit by, works. The only people who were not to know is us – The little people of every country, who are told they must pay their taxes, accept cuts because they aren’t paying enough taxes, and obey the laws and respect their betters.The "system" has a name: capitalism.
What we are seeing in Kansas is simply the micro of the macro, a symptom of a world that is increasingly susceptible to burning. We live on a planet that is approaching a global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial average temperatures: a level not seen in the last 110,000 years.
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
I have in recent years frequently expressed my astonishment at the deterioration of corporate news into what looks like pure capitalist ruling class propaganda. This perspective is based on my experience as an activist over the past 60 years. Corporate news reports have never been free of such bias, but now this mainstream media appear to be used almost entirely as a propaganda weapon against enemies of the US ruling class.
This article by Parry was apparently provoked by the recent reports carried all over corporate media about the release of the so-called "Panama Papers". The coverage was mostly framed as a Putin corruption scandal except that Putin was never named in the released papers. This coverage caused Parry to conclude that US corporate media are now being used for political purposes:
Sadly, some important duties of journalism, such as applying evenhanded standards on human rights abuses and financial corruption, have been so corrupted by the demands of government propaganda – and the careerism of too many writers – that I now become suspicious whenever the mainstream media trumpets some sensational story aimed at some “designated villain.”It appears that our ruling class masters are seeing signs that many people are doubting the reports of corporate media especially because of discerning articles by bloggers such as Parry carried via the internet. Hence the recent piece carried in the US capitalist mouthpiece Bloomberg News which framed a report about one person, Andrés Sepúlveda, using the "Internet", but in reality he was using mostly social media carried via Internet technology, to rig elections in Latin American countries. (Of course, this never happens in the US.) Bloomberg authors describe what a former employer said about Sepuvida:
Far too often, this sort of “journalism” is just a forerunner to the next “regime change” scheme, dirtying up or delegitimizing a foreign leader before the inevitable advent of a “color revolution” organized by “democracy-promoting” NGOs often with money from the U.S. government’s National Endowment for Democracy or some neoliberal financier like George Soros.
Sepúlveda, saw that hackers could be completely integrated into a modern political operation, running attack ads, researching the opposition, and finding ways to suppress a foe’s turnout. As for Sepúlveda, his insight was to understand that voters trusted what they thought were spontaneous expressions of real people on social media more than they did experts on television and in newspapers. He knew that accounts could be faked and social media trends fabricated, all relatively cheaply. He wrote a software program, now called Social Media Predator, to manage and direct a virtual army of fake Twitter accounts. The software let him quickly change names, profile pictures, and biographies to fit any need. Eventually, he discovered, he could manipulate the public debate as easily as moving pieces on a chessboard—or, as he puts it, “When I realized that people believe what the Internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything.” [my emphasis]The Bloomberg article mixed social media manipulation (which has happened) in with World Wide Web articles (which can be true or false or somewhere in between) carried via the Internet to cast doubt on the latter in favor of "experts on television and in newspapers" owned by major corporations.
As more is revealed about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), it is clear that it has little to do with improving trade. If implemented corporations will have the power to force governments to put corporate interests above the needs of their own citizens.All of these neoliberal trade treaties also include the poison pill of the Investor-State Dispute Settlements section.
From labour protection to public health, corporations are using the a rapidly-growing private justice system known as Investor-State Dispute Settlements, the proposed enforcement mechanism for TTIP, to sue governments for anticipated lost future profits incurred from the passage of democratically-decided regulation.
If it sounds dystopian, that’s because it is.
...it appears that money and fear play a significant role in global support for Israel, but that support is quickly fading, as more countries recognize Palestine and condemn Israel. Steps by the European Union requiring appropriate labeling of Israeli goods produced on occupied land; the increasing academic, economic and entertainment boycott of Israel; and even the U.S., Israel’s main financier, approval of the Iran nuclear agreement that Israel spent as much as $40 million opposing, all point to a major change in world opinion.
Today, with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement gaining traction at universities, religious organizations and labor unions, the same methods that ended apartheid in South Africa are being implemented to accomplish the same thing in Israel.
The ‘philanthropy’ currently being dished out in Africa does not empower local farmers but is aimed at getting GMOs (with all of the associated problems) into agriculture, sucking farmers into the prevailing power structures of US capitalism and marginalising credible, alternative approaches based on self-sufficiency, sustainability and sound ecological practices.
Monday, April 4, 2016
Engdahl looks at some of the strange happenings in and around Syria and sees some shrewd Machiavellian games being played. For example, both the US and Russia support the Syrian Kurds, but for very different reasons as he explains.
At this point it rather looks like a shrewd judo by Putin, himself an old judo master, with a Judo 8th Dan and sitting as Honorary President of the European Judo Union. It looks like Russia, despite its air force drawdown and troop pull-back, has just established the first “No Fly” zone in Syria, the most-wanted aim of the US Pentagon and Turkey only five months ago, as the necessary step to topple Assad and the Syrian government and create a weak government presiding over a Balkanized Syria. Only the Russian no fly zone has a quite different aim–to protect the Syrian Kurds from a possible Turkish military attack.Then there is the Israeli trade deals with Russia cutting in on such deals with Turkey. All these maneuverings leave many questions. One thing is clear: deception is the name of the game.
In the view of Washington (and Brazil’s opposition), Lula, Rousseff and the PT remain controversial because their emphasis on multipolarity (which excludes American exceptionalism); support of the BRICS (which is seen to operate against the US and G7 interests); funding for the BRICS New Development Band and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (which are seen to undermine the power of G7 international multilateral organizations); efforts to overcome income polarization (which is regarded as potentially subversive), Latin American integration (which is perceived as anti-NAFTA) and alternative global Internet regime (which would bypass U.S. control); and a multipolar currency basket (which is seen as an attempt to emasculate the global dominance of the U.S. dollar).For me this piece raises questions about the authenticity of the Zika virus crisis which has received extensive coverage in corporate media. Could this crisis have been manufactured and is being used as another weapon to discourage Americans from attending the Olympics in Brazil? See this, this, and this.
In this narrative, Brazil’s destabilization is strategic and less about the rise of democracy than about an effort to replace it with new authoritarianism.
I've noticed in recent years that whenever the capitalist ruling directorate has an interest in media coverage of an event, no matter for what devious purposes, corporate media will provide extensive coverage. I'm thinking especially of the Mubarak regime change riots in Egypt in 2011 and the revolution in Ukraine in 2014, both of which received widespread TV coverage in the US. The same is true of the Zika virus (always associated with Brazil) in which TV programs have featured many sensational pictures of pin-head infants.
Bernhard's investigation of this incident suggests another instance of the use of deception by the directors of the capitalist ruling class to smear their opponents and control others through the use of blackmail.
A real leak of data from a law firm in Panama would be very interesting. Many rich people and/or politicians hide money in shell companies that such firms in Panama provide. But the current heavily promoted "leak" of such data to several NATO supporting news organization and a US government financed "Non Government Organization" is just a lame attempt to smear some people the U.S. empire dislikes. It also creates a huge blackmail opportunity by NOT publishing certain data in return for this or that desired favor.
The globalized capitalist economy externalizes its destruction and atrocities, keeping the masses in a state of ignorance and denial. Our corporate overlords are not conscientious citizens, but mindless organizations whose sole purpose is to grow profits no matter the external damage done to society and the environment. Between the economic oil hitmen who ensure that profits flow smoothly and
Sunday, April 3, 2016
I regard Gowans as having a first-rate mind; a mind which reflects clarity of thinking, mostly free of ideological mind-traps that most thinkers fall into, and well informed by having had access to the best intellectual sources. Nobody is infallible, but there are some people who have been blessed with abilities, time, and opportunities to offer the very best analyses to help us understand some of the urgent issues facing humans today. There are numerous articles available over the internet and most are read and quickly thrown away like most consumer products. This is not one of those products. This is a major treatise (of moderate length) that beams a powerful light through the fog of propaganda to help us understand what is going on in the strife-ridden Middle East.
By studying this treatise you will come to understand that what is going on in the Middle East is an updated version of old-fashioned colonialism known as neocolonialism:
Saudi Arabia, along with Israel, stands as one of the most important regional allies of the international dictatorship of the United States. And, as protégés of the dictatorship, the Saudi rulers long ago reconciled themselves to the existence of a Jewish state as an outpost of Western imperialism in the middle (literally) of the Arab nation.... As much as Israel, Saudi Arabia is a satrapy of the United States.You will learn that in order to disguise their aggressions against other Arab states on behalf of the US Empire, Saudi Arabia and its satellites use anti-Islam sectarianism.
The dictatorship on the Arabian Peninsula leads from within the region a war against anti-neo-colonial forces which reject the hegemony of the United States and Israel and implacably insist on Palestinian self-determination. It seeks to weaken and undermine these progressive forces by using religion to achieve the profane end of diverting resistance to the Western imperialist project into wars on “apostates” and “infidels.”Israel is the worst neocolonial crime committed by the Western capitalist nations against the nations of the Middle East. You will learn the real, thoroughly democratic position by those Middle Eastern countries and forces that are in opposition to Israel.
And finally, you will learn to put the European holocaust into a larger perspective:
The greatest holocaust of all was not the one carried out against Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany, though that genocide, accompanied by the systematic extermination of others, including Roma, communists and Slavs, was as obscene as any other. If we have to attach priority to genocide, as is done in capitalizing the anti-Jewish holocaust as the Holocaust, then a much larger genocide, of which there is little discussion if even acknowledgement, has a more compelling claim to this grim mantle—the holocaust of the indigenous people of the Americas. In terms of the number of human beings exterminated, the American Holocaust is perhaps the greatest crime of the European colonial tradition.I find two interpretations of Gowans that I differ with in this essay. First, he fails to connect colonialism with capitalism. One would think that colonialism was only a racist disease that infected Europeans, instead of an inevitable desire by capitalists of any nation to expand their opportunities throughout the world in order to gain access to raw materials and cheap labor. The fact that capitalism first appeared in Europe is only an accident of historical forces.
Second, I totally disagree with his interpretation of the Western hostile attitudes toward Hitler and the Nazis. Although I don't have time to develop my argument here, my position is that Hitler and all fascists were created by Western capitalists both as a defense against socialist/communist forces within their own countries and to prepare particularly Germany to attack and destroy the Soviet Union, a nation that rejected capitalism and tried to establish the first workers state. The hostility often expressed by Western leaders is a psychological defense against this very embarrassing reality.