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 4, 2016

Trumpocalypse: America Saves the World Again!

Click here to access article by CJ Hopkins from CounterPunch

Hopkins takes a lighthearted satirical attack on how Empire directors dupe their citizens into supporting their drug habits of profit and power. It seems that this style is about the only way that rational and informed people can maintain their sanity when dealing with the current state of affairs in the US. Here are two choice paragraphs:
...if you understand “America” as the symbolic face of transnational Capitalism, then suddenly everything does make sense. The chaos the U.S.A. has been sowing throughout the Middle East, on Russia’s borders, and in other quarters throughout the world, is all part and parcel of Capitalism’s ongoing mission to expand and exploit new markets, and to do away with the final remnants of any despotic structures and values that stand in the way of its dominance of … well, everything. Looking at things this way, it’s also clear that actual Americans (i.e. American citizens) mean nothing more to global Capitalism than actual Iraqis, or Yemenis, or Mexicans, or any other citizens of other nation-states … which possibly sheds a little light on recent trends in the U.S.A., like the mysteriously disappearing middle-class, or why a nation would allow its banks to debt-enslave its university students, and anyone else they can get their hooks into, in order to enrich a transnational elite of investors who have no loyalty to anything.

Which brings us back to our founding myth, and America Saves the World Again! See, the picture I just painted above is terribly depressing, and unromantic, and makes it hard for global Capitalism to sell itself as “freedom,” “democracy,” “progress,” and all that other stuff. It also makes it extremely difficult to keep people thinking in terms of nations, and “our national interests,” and “threats to the nation.” People, once they start to see things clearly and realize that their “national leaders” couldn’t give two shits about them, get really angry, which is inconvenient. So Capitalism needs to distract them somehow, and redirect their anger somewhere, and give them something to believe in again.

The Day of the Rhino

Click here to access article by Jeffrey St. Clair from CounterPunch.

The author reports that Israel, the Empire's colonial fortress for Jews only planted in the Middle East to secure the region's abundant fossil fuels, is moving politically ever farther to the right. What irony! Remember that corporate propaganda had it that Jews needed a home of their own because of all the genocide and antisemitic oppression they suffered in Europe under right-wing regimes, above all, the Nazis. St. Clair sees the current right-wing drift in Israel having remarkable similarities with the Nazi's favorite concept of Gleichschaltung.

When the climate comes for you

Click here to access a poem by Kamala Emanuel from Climate & Capitalism.

I wrote this after I read about people in Pakistan digging mass graves in advance of the forecast heatwave, so as to not be caught unprepared, as they were last year. — Kamala Emanuel

According to plan?

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from his blog Occasional Links & Commentary.

It’s all going according to plan, at least as mainstream economists and politicians see things. Private enterprises, both large and small, on Main Street and Wall Street, were given every condition to lead the economic recovery from the spectacular crash of 2007-08.

And, according to today’s job report, it worked....

Friday, June 3, 2016

New Silk Road or New World War for NATO Colonies?

Click here to access article by Matthew Ehret-Kump from Global Independent Analytics

The author reports on the efforts led by the Chinese strategy of "win-win", first advocated by Deng Xiaoping back in the late 1970s and now promoted by the current leader Xi Jinping, which has so far worked so well within China by raising the standard of living of everyone, developing China's infrastructure and economy, and bringing China to world power status in nearly every realm. As I understand it, the strategy is under the guidance of the Chinese Communist party which has allowed and promoted significant participation by both domestic and foreign capitalist corporations. One side benefit was to solve the political problems of China by a hyper-development of the economy and technology. For several years they have been trying, and succeeding to some extent, to export this model abroad. 

This win-win cooperation strategy is confronted by the US-led Empire's imperialist objective of dominating the world. The Canadian author gives his assessment on how the two strategies are competing and clashing throughout the world. While China is certainly gaining supporters, the Empire with its NATO armies is still in a dominant position; and as he and others have argued with substantial evidence, the Empire is meeting this challenge by preparing for another world war against both China and Russia. 

Could it be that the directors of the capitalist dominated Empire are looking for war both as a way to eliminating rivals to their dominance, but also as a way to re-charge their sluggish economies? War with its destruction of capital has always served to enrich capitalists by opening up many profitable opportunities for them to replace the destroyed capital as well as extending their control over new areas of the globe. Such thinking in this advanced nuclear-armed world is surely insane. This raises the question: have the Empire's directors become so hopelessly intoxicated and sickened with their drugs of profit and power that they have lost their grasp of reality?

TOON: The Roots Of Our Problems

Click here if you wish to access the cartoon by Gregory Crawford directly from World News Trust.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Art, war and social revolution

Click here (Part 1) and here (Part 2) to access the edited transcripts of recent presentations given by David Walsh, a film and book critic for the World Socialist Web Site, on several college campuses. 

I've long regarded Walsh as one of the most insightful critics of films and novels. His left, undogmatic political orientation has been informed by many years of critical thinking about culture and politics. In this presentation Walsh (born in 1949) tries to make sense out of life in the US, which has been so dramatically impacted by many wars during the past century, through examining the themes of many films and books during this period. He finds that they can be separated in two categories: films/books in the past 25 years and those previous starting in WWI. He is not suggesting that the earlier period was any kind of golden age, but he sees the more recent period has producing works that represent a serious decline in social examination and criticism. He asks:
Where is the work that has captured the horror of the “war on terror”?

Now, we’ve had 25 years of war … by now, you would think a great work would have appeared.

Where is the film or novel (or drama or poem or painting) that has captured for an entire generation the horror of the “war on terror”? This is a central issue in this talk, a central problem…
In his conclusion Walsh argues that we are the threshold of change:
Clearly, we have entered a new stage of development. The economic and social crisis, along with relentless wars and militarist violence, are fueling the discontent of masses of people and blowing up—or threatening to blow up—political arrangements and set-ups around the globe, including in the US. 

An Insider’s Look at the Dulles 9/11 Video

Click here to access article by Kevin Ryan from 911Blogger
The strongest evidence linking the alleged hijackers to 9/11 was a video said to be from the closed circuit TV (CCTV) system at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC. The video was not made available until the day before the 9/11 Commission Report was released, in 2004, and it helped to pave the way for widespread acceptance of the official account. Since the other evidence against the accused hijackers was dubious and suspiciously convenient for the FBI, which provided it, the Dulles video should be examined closely.

Capitalism is, overwhelmingly, the main driver of planetary ecological collapse.

Click here to access article by Richard Smith from Real-World Economics Review Blog.

This appears to be a teaser post to whet people's appetite for more, and to encourage them to read his now published booklet entitled Green Capitalism: The God that Failed which I strongly endorse.
Corporations aren’t necessarily evil, though plenty are diabolically evil, but they can’t help themselves. They’re just doing what they’re supposed to do for the benefit of their shareholders.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

International investment law, development and sovereignty: no harm?

Click here to access article by Nicolás Marcelo Perrone from ISDS platform

This case involving Ecuador as reported by Perrone provides an excellent illustration of how this new stage of capitalism, called neoliberalism, actually functions to undermine the sovereignty of nations when they interfere with the transnational capitalist class's right to pursue profitable opportunities. In recent decades this transnational class has evolved under the hegemony of the US Empire and come from nations who have a modicum of "democratic" institutions. As ruling classes of the latter they intentionally designed these institutions to serve as a facade behind which they could exercise rule that would support their pursuit of profits and power. (For an excellent description of this in the US, read a section of a post by Stephan Gowans: scroll down to the subtitle to "Who Rules America", read from there to the subtitle "US Foreign Policy Goals in Syria".)

Having subdued and subverted any significant challenges to their power from workers within their nations, these transnational capitalists are now moving to eliminate national barriers that impede their quest for ever greater profits and power. Hence they are now constructing a new neoliberal regime (World Trade Organization, TPP, TPIP, etc) in an attempt to eliminate any interference in their pursuit of profits and power anywhere in the world.

However there are a few nations where regimes exist that espouse a very different view of development that is subordinate to other values. Perrone explains how a corporate case against Ecuador is an illustration of this. 
The international investment regime, which consists of more than 3,000 treaties for the protection of foreign investment, has been fundamental in promoting this development model and in supervising states that tried to defy its orthodoxy. ...an initial purpose of investment arbitration was to lock-in a foreign investment-led development project. International arbitrators were in charge of preventing governments from changing their minds, and disappointing foreign investor expectations. Most of the criticisms against the international investment regime, however, are not based on these grounds. The main argument sustains that some investment arbitrators have gone too far, limiting regulation to curb negative externalities and market abuses —involving, for instance, plain-tobacco packaging. The increasing discussion about the right to regulate, in this way, has eclipsed a more profound debate about the role of the international investment regime in limiting alternative forms of development and policy experimentation.

This short essay aims to illustrate this more general debate by looking at the awards in the case Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) II v Ecuador, where the tribunal imposed one of the highest awards against a host state.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

France braces for travel chaos as transport unions join strikes

Click here to access article from RT.

Although I don't watch a lot of corporate news, it appears to me that they are continuing to censor news of the French strikes following the March 31st attempt by the government to dramatically reduce laws protecting workers. Here's the latest.
French trade unions plan to hold more strikes that will now target the transport system, in an effort to force the government to walk away from bitterly disputed reforms through a massive wave of labor unrest.

The protests raging across France over the controversial new labor law reforms could be approaching their highest point, with French unions now calling for more action from the national railway service, the Paris Metro and ports.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Launch Video: Ian Angus introduces ‘Facing the Anthropocene’ [a must-view video]

Click here if you wish to directly access the introduction reproduced below and the 34:09m video from the website of Climate & Capitalism.
Author’s presentation at book launch meeting for ‘Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System,’ at the Socialism for the 21st Century conference in Sydney, Australia, May 13, 2013.

The meeting was sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Green Left Weekly, and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. It was chaired by Simon Butler, and the first speaker was Christopher Wright, co-author ‘Climate Change, Capitalism and Corporations.’  Wright has posted the text of his talk on his blog, Climate, People and Organizations.

Video by GreenLeftTV.
Angus makes this very accurate comment of what is at stake: "If we fight we might lose. If we don't fight we will lose, and my [all of our] grandchildren will pay the price."

9/11 Disinformation: Saudi Arabia Attacked America

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from Foreign Policy Journal.
The forever changing 9/11 story is entering a new phase. Blame is being transferred from Osama bin Laden to the Saudi Arabian government.
Here is how I would put Robert's argument: The "deep state" which assassinated many top leaders in the late '60s and early '70s is now trying another tactic to deflect our attention away from their false flag 9/11 operation that has been used to launch so many devastating wars in the Middle East.
Katib Al-Shammari says that the US planned and carried out 9/11 in order to obtain hegemony over the Middle East and placed the blame for 9/11 on an ever changing list of culprits depending on Washington’s goal at the time. First, he says, it was Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Then Saddam Hussein and Iraq. A New York Court blames Iran. Now Saudi Arabia is given the villian role. The Americans, he says, always come up with suspicious documents and claim to have evidence that they never show.

Americans would greatly benefit from reading the perspective of others. Do read the Saudi’s explanation of 9/11. It makes more sense than the official story.

Zeitgeist representations

Click here to access article and a 2:03:07 Zeitgeist video posted by economist David Ruccio on his website Occasional Links & Commentary

I have only had time to view about 25 minutes of this video in which much was explained about the money system, and how it is created in the US by a consortium of banks known as the Federal Reserve and other banking institutions through loans. I believe that this explanation is accurate, but more importantly Ruccio, an economist, appears to believe it is accurate by posting it on his website even though he as some reservations about the video's interpretation of their explanation. 

Please understand that he must use this oblique method to post his views because they are incompatible with capitalist theology in order to secure his career in economics. This threat to our livelihoods is a prime method used by our capitalist overseers to insure that we ordinary people are not infected with any radical ideas. He writes:
What I find interesting about the film is less the conspiracy-driven analysis of the monetary system and the Federal Reserve (although there’s a certain validity to the idea that people are forced to have the freedom to sell their ability to work in order to pay off their debt) than the argument that capitalism perpetuates the conditions it claims to address and that it’s possible to imagine a different economy, one that puts environmental friendliness, sustainability, and abundance as fundamental economic and social goals. Zeitgeist offers a particular representation of the economy as it is and how it can be made better, in a manner that runs directly counter to the representations offered by most official economists in the United States.

That and the fact that the film has been viewed on Youtube over half a million times.

On The Inevitability Of Human Progress

Click here to access these dramatic images posted by Bernhard of Moon of Alabama.

The juxtaposed images need little interpretation.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good [article of the month]

Click here to access article by Colin Todhunter from East by Northwest (Britain).

I am awarding this essay as the best I've posted this month of May among many others that were excellent. 

A number of years ago Todhunter first began reporting the devastating effects of corporate farming operations primarily in India where he as lived for many years, and has now arrived at the insight that the real roots of these devastating attacks on societies such as India lay with the tiny class-serving system of capitalism. 

Most informed people for a variety of reasons (securing their careers, wanting the approval of others, or serving the system which could bring them huge rewards of wealth and power) stop short of this deep insight. This fearless truth-seeker has gone all the way by stating a very simple principle which I will repeat: "A system not run for the public good can never serve the public good."--and as such is not legitimate! Hence the vast assembly of propaganda institutions that capitalists use to hide this fact and to deceive the public into thinking that the existing system (they usually don't name it, or refer to it by other bland names such as the "market system") does serve public interests instead of their own interests of profit and power.

Fearless truthseekers like Todhunter usually suffer for their efforts. They will never be hired by corporations, capitalist controlled governments, or non-profit organizations that usually depend on contributions from corporations. They often are socially shunned by most people who blindly or cowardly follow the easy, rewarding path of capitalist norms and values. The only problem is that this path is leading humans over the cliffs of nuclear wars and environmental destruction to extinction. If we as individuals refuse to be driven, then we simply must support people like Todhunter who pursue the truth and write about it. We must support them any way, or extent, that we can.

The grilling of a Wall Street criminal

by cartoonist David Horsey.


The Boiling Pot

Click here to access article by Richard Heinberg from Post Carbon Institute.
On the surface, things appear normal. .... The stock market is up, unemployment is down. We’re muddling through.

Or are we?