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 LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Haunted by the Ghosts of War

Click here to access article by Edward Curtin from OffGuardian

Curtin reminds all Americans that today is Veteran's Day and the responsibility we all have to end war. However, both he and his featured Canadian aboriginal song-writer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, come up short as to how we can end it: Buffy by suggesting that we can elect better leaders and Curtin comes up short when he repeats the slogan "War is a lie, and only truth will free us." In the next and final sentence he appeals to our individualist ethic derived from capitalist culture by writing "Then we must devote ourselves to ending war. Each of us is responsible." I assume this last message was meant to be profound, but to me it is meaningless.

But what about the other sentence: that "war is a lie, and only truth will free us"? I can relate to that by referencing the lie in the Latin quote at the beginning of his essay: "It is sweet and proper to die for the fatherland." That is the lie that all ruling classes have used throughout the history of civilization to get ordinary people to fight in their wars for their benefit. And the clause "only truth will free us" must contain the truth about the class nature of societies throughout the bloody history of civilization and to learn how we can organize to free us from all ruling classes forever. They will never allow us to vote them out of existence. We must collaborate, if necessary even fight, to learn these truths, otherwise humans can only look forward to extinction either in the short term through nuclear wars or in the long term via climate destabilization.

Right now we are witnessing vigorous attacks on truth because our masters are threatened by the information and views many of us are receiving from digital media instead of from hired talking heads and propaganda specialists in their media corporations. They are now only beginning to implement measures of censorship of this online media. After a few decades this will be considered a new normal by everyone. Then we all will be living in a world portrayed in the 1999 film The Matrix. We won't need blue pills to keep us ignorant and obedient, and red pills won't exist. 

US Slow-Motion Shutdown of RT and Sputnik?

Click here to access article by Stephen Lendman from his website.
Hostile US demands on popular English-language Russian media, combined with social media censorship of alternative views called “fake news,” threatens press freedom in America.

It’s tyranny by any standard, the way all police states operate, controlling news, information and analysis, suppressing alternative truth-telling, notably on vital issues.

America is on a dangerous slippery slope in this direction, the future of independent reporting and commentaries at stake, along with other fundamental freedoms – gravely threatened if speech, media and academic freedoms are lost.
I think that this blatant move toward censorship of media that don't serve the interests of the US ruling capitalist class is a desperate move to contain the spread of alternative media which has arisen in the digital age to serve the interests of ordinary people. Thus this tendency is not only directed against media organizations which do not serve the US capitalist class, but our masters have decided to embark on a very slippery slope to contain and manage all dissent. This is reflected in their current use of media corporations to propagate pure propaganda and to eliminate any significant sources of information that does not serve their interests. Hence their recent campaign of "fake news" designed to undermine people's credibility in alternative media, and their campaign against RT.

The importance of managing news and information grew along with the concentration of wealth and power in the late 19th century that was designated as a Gilded Age in the US. Our masters, as well as capitalists in other leading countries, began to see the importance of managing news and information in order to not only contain dissent but to promote their self-serving policies of accumulating more power and wealth. The latter policies were reflected in their promotion of devastating imperial wars between colonial powers in the 20th century, to crush any militant labor organizing, to promote austerity policies among the general population, and control governments, always advertised as "democratic", to ensure that they serve capitalists. 

During this time we witnessed the rise of a new intellectual discipline that took the euphemism of "public relations" to advance the study of the management of information in order to promote capitalist policies ranging from consumption of toothpaste to the cause of war. Thus, even though profitable opportunities lie in industrial and financial investments, they made sure that any significant media were under capitalist control by investing in newspapers, radio stations, and later TV stations to supplement and reinforce the indoctrination ordinary people received in public education that they already controlled. 

However, the digital age has made to the transmission of information and analysis so much cheaper that many ordinary people, in combination or by themselves, now have websites which offer countervailing views. This poses a direct threat to their class rule. Thus, in spite of propaganda about a "free press", which is supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution, the capitalist ruling class have embarked on this phony campaign of censorship by launching this attack on RT and "fake news" in general (see this and this). Where this will end is the stuff of nightmares. 

What we really need to save ourselves is a strategy to organize around a movement that makes freedom of news, analysis, and information as their core issue, even to the extent of pooling resources in the form of an organization that provides such services (see my potentially revolutionary proposal--Part 1, Part 2a, Part 2b, Part 3).

Friday, November 10, 2017

Enbridge to Nowhere

Click here to access report from the Public Accountability Initiative. (Note: the post provides an index of sub-topics (on the right-hand side) in this rather lengthy report to help you access the different parts.)

Protesters march against Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline proposal
(Photo: Ellen Schmidt--Minnesota Public Radio)
This report is about how Enbridge corporation is cleverly attempting to deceive and, overcome the resistance of, the people of Minnesota into approving a largest pipeline ever, a pipeline that, if approved, will pass through Minnesota and pump millions of barrels of tar sands oil into the US from Canada.  
A recent study released by the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) on the economic benefits of Enbridge’s controversial Line 3 replacement pipeline is deeply compromised by major conflicts of interest, many of which are undisclosed, as well as serious methodological problems. The Duluth News Tribune, the Duluth area’s leading newspaper, also has major undisclosed conflicts surrounding its coverage of the UMD study.

The UMD study is a prime example of a wider tactic used by the fossil fuel industry, which we’ve reported on before, whereby the industry and industry-backed groups fund studies that bear a legitimizing university imprimatur but are in fact deeply influenced and/or supported by the very oil and gas companies that have a vested interest in the results of the studies. The findings of these industry-financed studies are then spread by backers as fact in op-eds, editorials, letters to editors, public hearings, and other mediums, all while being referred to as a given university’s study — with the authority and trust that confers — rather than an industry study.
This is another dramatic illustration among a vast number that shows how nearly everything in a capitalist society is fake in order to promote profits for a relatively tiny group of investors while destroying the ecosystem upon which we all depend.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

‘McCarthyism on steroids’: US war on Russian media won’t stop with branding RT foreign agent

Click here to access article from RT
Washington’s ultimatum for RT America to register as a foreign agent is a “significant escalation of the war launched against Russian media” which only demonstrates how desperate the US establishment has become, British media expert Neil Clark believes.
I rely on websites like RT and teleSur to provide real news about what is happening in the world. They along with independent journalists and bloggers offer the only antidote to the brainwashing drugs that media corporations provide for ideological addicts here in the USA.

"Explosive" Leaked Secret Israeli Cable Confirms Israeli-Saudi Coordination To Provoke War

Click here to access article by Tyler Durden from ZeroHedge.
Early this morning, Israeli Channel 10 news published a leaked diplomatic cable which had been sent to all Israeli ambassadors throughout the world concerning the chaotic events that unfolded over the weekend in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, which began with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's unexpected resignation after he was summoned to Riyadh by his Saudi-backers, and led to the Saudis announcing that Lebanon had "declared war" against the kingdom.

The classified embassy cable, written in Hebrew, constitutes the first formal evidence proving that the Saudis and Israelis are deliberately coordinating to escalate the situation in the Middle East.
Tyler concludes this report by writing:
What has both Israel and the Saudis worried is the fact that the Syrian war has strengthened Hezbollah, not weakened it. And now we have smoking gun internal evidence that Israel is quietly formalizing its unusual alliance with Saudi Arabia and its power-hungry and hawkish crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine: A Political Account of Joseph Stalin

Click here to access article by Sean Ledwith from CounterFire (Britain).

This book review is the best portrayal I've found online regarding the personality, revolutionary role, and rule of Stalin.
This year’s one-hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution is partly overshadowed by the moustachioed and gimlet-eyed figure of Josef Stalin. As October draws closer we can expect a drearily predictable litany of articles and documentaries from right-wing historians (and some misguided left-wing ones) proclaiming the event as one of the great calamities of the twentieth century and the foundation of Russia’s ineluctable descent into a dark dictatorship presided over by the baleful cobbler's son from Georgia. The alleged thread of mass coercion connecting the careers of Lenin and Stalin will be one of the tropes of the right in its case against radical change of any form. Any similar project to cast off the shackles of capitalist inequality and oppression, it will be argued, can only lead inexorably to variations of the Gulag and the KGB.

Politics Makes Strange Bed Fellows

Click here to access article by Stephen Gowans from his website What's Left (Canada).

As history demonstrates, ruling regimes, ruling classes, and government leaders often make compromises with other powerful actors in order to take advantage of opportunities or even just to survive. Gowans, who in my opinion is one of the world's top geopolitical analysts, apparently received private communication from Michel Chossudovsky, founder of Global Research, criticizing (I can't find any online source for Chossudovsky's criticisms.) Gowans' recent article entitled "The US-Led War on Yemen" (I posted it on the 7th of November.). Gowans responds to his criticisms convincingly, in my opinion. See what you think.

I think that Chossudovsky's criticisms may illustrate the immature thinking that many on the left are infected with, that is, the need to find pure, moral heroes (good guys versus bad guys) in the world instead of accepting that all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, often make compromises to powerful people and nations in order to at least survive. When compromises are made with power in order to thrive is where criticism is justified.    

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Russian revolution: 50 Years after

Click here to access article by Ted Grant from International Marxist Tendency (based in Britain. The should be distinguished from another Trotskiest organization based in Detroit, Michigan, by the name of International Committee of the Fourth International. The latter's website is World Socialist Web Site. Both, in my opinion, are good organizations.)

I prefer this article to another which provides a summary view of the Russian Revolution after 90 years and posted in 2007. However in the last paragraph Grant tried in 1967 to forecast the future and, of course, it didn't turn out quite that way. The Stalinist ruling class and its bureaucracy came crashing down in 1990 with the collusion of Russian opportunists and Western agents. However, since then Putin and his supporters have taken back much of the stolen national wealth from the opportunists, and is now leading an independent Russia with a mixed economy. Communist parties--actually, there are several--in Russia are still very popular, the accomplishments of the Revolution are still fondly remembered, and some have even been restored partially. Perhaps we have not yet seen the end of the socialist ideas that arose during the Revolution of 1917. 
The aims of the revolution were simple and clear. They had been worked out theoretically by Marx. Rule by the working class, as a step towards Socialism. From the beginning, a higher form of democracy than under capitalism. They involved the rule of the Soviets, spontaneously set up the workers during the course of the revolution. These Soviets were committees of factory workers, peasants, housewives, democratically and freely elected. This was to replace the capitalists' state machine. No official was to receive higher pay than that of a skilled worker. In place of a standing army was to come the armed people. Instead of a bureaucratic hierarchy, gradually all jobs in the administration of the state, were to be done by everyone in turn. Thus when everyone was a "bureaucrat" no one could be a bureaucrat. In Lenin's aphorism "every cook should be able to be Prime Minister". These aims were [present at] the beginning of the revolution. 

Recommended articles for 11/8/2017

In this article Cunningham draws from recent events in the Middle East to support the rather obvious implication that the US and its allies (Saudi Arabia and Israel) are preparing a war against Iran.
I was deeply chagrined to find this report on the website of ConsortiumNews. I have long been aware that Reporters Without Borders have been serving as an astroturf website that deceptively serves the interests of the Empire. Just look at the comments (you will need to click on "Show Comments") by aware people who follow this otherwise excellent website. If that is not enough for you, then read this. Then view this to see Udo Ulfkotte explain how he and other journalists were trained to lie by US intelligence agencies. Strangely enough, you won't find anything about Ulfkotte on the website of Reporters Without Borders. Ulfkotte conveniently (for the "intelligence" agencies) died of a "heart attack" earlier this year.
As someone who has found considerable evidence to indicate that media corporations have been thoroughly corrupted by the CIA to only cover and disseminate news that serves their imperial interests, I must ask myself why this topic has received this kind of coverage now. The answer that comes back is that the coverage serves to distract Americans from international events that serve to put the US Empire in a bad light.
The CIA corrupted media executives will use anything to distract Americans from real news about the Empire's many criminal activities in foreign lands--real or contrived terrorist or mass shooting events, sexual and other identity issues, the latest "news" about Trump's connections with Russia's Putin, the latest epidemic (opiod), and/or the latest sensational scandals of celebrities.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Russian Revolution: Soviets in Action

Click here to access article by the American journalist John Reed from the archives of Marxists.org. (Note: I erred in not placing this article before those of Rosa Luxemburg. Because reporting on the Russian Revolution has taken so much time and energy for me, I will be winding up this series in the next few days.)

One of our own from the Pacific Northwest (Portland, OR) of the United States of America covered the revolutionary events in Russia as an eye-witness for American workers. Like most all of his reports immediately after the successful conclusion of the revolution, this article was published in 1918 in The Liberator  (not to be confused with the abolitionist newspaper leading up to, and during, the American Civil War) which was a radical newspaper for American workers.
Through all the chorus of abuse and misrepresentation directed against the Russian Soviets by the capitalist press there runs a voice shrill with a sort of panic, which cries: ‘There is no government in Russia! There is no organisation among the Russian workers! It will not work! It will not work!’

There is method in the slander.

As all real socialists know, and as we who have seen the Russian Revolution can testify, there is today in Moscow and throughout all the cities and towns of the Russian land a highly complex political structure, which is upheld by the vast majority of the people and which is functioning as well as any newborn popular government ever functioned. Also the workers of Russia have fashioned from their necessities and the demands of life an economic organisation which is evolving into a true industrial democracy. 

The Russian Revolution: Chapter 8: Democracy and Dictatorship

Click here to access the final chapter of the book The Russian Revolution authored by Rosa Luxemburg while she was in prison in 1918, and only a few months before she and Karl Liebknecht, left-wing members of the German Social Democratic Party, were assassinated.

In this final chapter Luxemburg returns to the anti-democratic nature of the Bolsheviks touched on in Chapter 4. While she recognizes the deficiencies of democracy in the Russian revolutionary government, she forgives the Bolshevik leaders because of the overwhelming obstacles that confronted them. In addition to the epidemics, war, lack of food, counter-revolutionary armies, invasions by capitalist nations, she refers also to the lack of international support for the Russian revolution by socialist organizations in the more advanced capitalist countries. I remember reading somewhere that this concern was also shared by Lenin and Trotsky who saw the need for revolutions in other capitalist countries in order for the Russian revolution to be successful.
Let the German Government Socialists cry that the rule of the Bolsheviks in Russia is a distorted expression of the dictatorship of the proletariat. If it was or is such, that is only because it is a product of the behavior of the German proletariat, in itself a distorted expression of the socialist class struggle. All of us are subject to the laws of history, and it is only internationally that the socialist order of society can be realized. The Bolsheviks have shown that they are capable of everything that a genuine revolutionary party can contribute within the limits of historical possibilities. They are not supposed to perform miracles. For a model and faultless proletarian revolution in an isolated land, exhausted by world war, strangled by imperialism, betrayed by the international proletariat, would be a miracle.

Recommended articles for 11/7/2017 (One is a "best post")

Because of very recent, fast moving developments in Saudi Arabia and nearby areas, I am posting these articles early. (In roughly chronological order)
  • Saudi Coup? from UK Column. Mike Robinson and Patrick Henningsen (of Century 21) are joined by geopolitical analyst Marwa Osman for yesterday's UK Column News. The link includes show notes.
  • Defeated Elsewhere, Saudi Tyrant Declares War On Lebanon by Bernhard from his website Moon of Alabama. What literally happened is that "Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan said the Lebanese government would 'be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia' because of what he described as aggression by Hezbollah.'"

Monday, November 6, 2017

Recommended articles for 11/6/2017

Curtin, in my opinion, is one of the wisest people on the World Wide Web. In this piece he analyzes and explains the reasons why people lie to others and to themselves.
We are awash in information (and disinformation) and both good and bad reporting, but it is still available to the caring inquirer.

The problem is the will to know.  But why, why the refusal to investigate and question; why the indifference?  Stupidity?  Okay, there is that.  Ignorance?  That too.  Willful ignorance, ditto.  Laziness, indeed. Careerism and ideology?  For certain.
One reason he didn't directly mention is the extreme individualism (the next step is sociopathy) that is promoted by a capitalist social system. But the sad reality is...we live in an advanced form of a capitalist society. So, we often lie to ourselves and to others, and believe the lies we are told by authority figures and sources. Consider this as a survival trait almost necessary to survive in an advanced capitalist system. Curtin explains this very well. (This is a "best post".)
No single entity in modern history, foreign or domestic, has told more lies -- and been caught bloody-handed, during or after the fact -- than the CIA.

The Russian Revolution: Chapter 6: The Problem of Dictatorship

Click here to access article by Rosa Luxemburg from her book The Russian Revolution that she wrote in prison in 1918 a few months before she and Karl Liebknecht, left-wing members of the German Social Democratic Party, were assassinated.

Notice that I have skipped Chapter 5 which dealt with universal suffrage. Instead, the Bolshevik leaders instead emphasized (or at least initially) the soviets (councils of workers and soldiers). In this chapter I found her arguments to be overly condensed--especially the first several paragraphs. But then, who knows what primitive conditions she experienced while writing this in prison. In this chapter she criticizes the Bolshevik leaders, especially Trotsky, for expecting too much of the proletariat. 
“Thanks to the open and direct struggle for governmental power,” writes Trotsky, “the laboring masses accumulate in the shortest time a considerable amount of political experience and advance quickly from one stage to another of their development.”
Russian Empire 1914

In defense of the Bolshevik leaders, she may not have been aware of the extreme difficulties they experienced after they took power. (By the way, I erred in the belief that the Bolsheviks took power around Nov. 1, they actually took power on November 7, 1917.) They were confronted by all kinds of problems in addition to organizing new governing institutions: food shortages, typhus and other epidemics, the counter-revolution organized by the White generals, the independence movements in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland; the invasion of other capitalist countries to crush the revolution: principally Britain, USA, France, and Japan; etc. It's quite a miracle that the revolution succeeded at all.

Still Luxemburg emphasized the importance of educated and experienced people to safeguard the revolution, to create a new kind of society, and to participate actively in making policy decisions. I remember reading elsewhere that the Bolsheviks had to rely on many members of the Czarist bureaucracy to enable their new government to work.

Democrats In Denial Over Allegations That Further Confirm Primary Was Rigged

Click here to access article by Kevin Gosztola from Mint Press News. (Addendum posted at 6:12 PM Seattle time.)

Although most ordinary people who follow corporate sponsored news don't know much about it, political people, particularly those in Washington and especially those connected to the Democratic Party, are in an uproar over Donna Brazile's revelations that she reported in a recently published book and statements she has made since then. Instead we are constantly bombarded with grossly exaggerated details about Trump's connections to Russia.

Such corruption events are not news to people who are fully conscious about the power of money in capitalist "democracies". Aware people know that huge amounts of wealth that capitalism naturally promises for individuals gives the latter a weapon to exercise the power of wealth to rig governments and elections to serve themselves. Only when one faction of the One Percent are adversely affected by the corrupting influence of money do we hear about it in any media. 
...former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile has [recently] given credence to claims that the DNC rigged the primary, which is what members of the Sanders campaign and supporters have repeatedly asserted—even though most DNC officials or Clinton supporters treat such claims as the product of sexism or downright foolishness.

Brazile found a copy of the joint fundraising agreement between the DNC, Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary For America. It was signed by former CEO of the DNC Amy Dacey and Robby Mook, who was Clinton’s campaign manager. The Clinton campaign’s legal counsel, Marc Elias, was copied.

It specified that Clinton would “control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.”
So, Brazile's testimony suggests to me that Hillary Clinton (and her CIA backers) tried to rig (and failed) the 2016 election--not the Russians! Of course, this was what I always suspected.)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Recommended articles for 11/5/2017

  • Forced recession as a tool of social war against the 99% by Ramin Mazaheri from A bird's eye view of the Vineyard.  Note: I found this article very challenging. I think it is because of its conversational style and the author's casual references to many economic topics which I am unfamiliar. 
At this point I ran out of time and energy to look for more interesting articles.

The Russian Revolution: Chapter 4: The Constituent Assembly

Click here to access this chapter by Rosa Luxemburg from her book The Russian Revolution that she wrote in prison in 1918 a few months before she and Karl Liebknecht, left-wing members of the German Social Democratic Party, were assassinated. 

(For present day readers difficulties are presented in the book with the (now) obscure references she makes to events that were well known in her time. The notes help somewhat. She writes in the style of German writers of this era by using complex sentences. Also this English translation of her book was published in 1940, and I think it likely poses some problems for present day readers. Nevertheless her insights shine through these difficulties.)

Luxemburg argues in this chapter that the Bolsheviks were inconsistent with regard to constituent assemblies. They promoted them initially, but after the completion of the takeover of the government, they had no further use for them.  
It is a fact that Lenin and his comrades were stormily demanding the calling of a Constituent Assembly up to the time of their October victory, and that the policy of ragging out this matter on the part of the Kerensky government constituted an article in the indictment of that government by the Bolsheviks and was the basis of some of their most violent attacks upon it. Indeed, Trotsky says in his interesting pamphlet, From October to Brest-Litovsk, that the October Revolution represented “the salvation of the Constituent Assembly” as well as of the revolution as a whole. “And when we said,” he continues, “that the entrance to the Constituent Assembly could not be reached through the Preliminary Parliament of Zeretelli, but only through the seizure of power by the Soviets, we were entirely right.”

And then, after these declarations, Lenin’s first step after the October Revolution was ... the dissolution of this same Constituent Assembly, to which it was supposed to be an entrance. What reasons could be decisive for so astonishing a turn?
After reporting the rationales that the Bolshevik leaders offered, she makes a counter argument:
Since the Constituent Assembly was elected long before the decisive turning point, the October Revolution, and its composition reflected the picture of the vanished past and not of the new state of affairs, then it follows automatically that the outgrown and therefore still-born Constituent Assembly should have been annulled, and without delay, new elections to a new Constituent Assembly should have been arranged.
She will address this anti-democratic stance of the Bolsheviks more completely in a later chapter.