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

Friday, December 1, 2017

Recommended articles for 12/1/2017

  • To keep informed about the most important neoliberal strategy, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause (inserted in every corporate-state contract), to undermine democratic rights of people to defend themselves against corporate predatory behavior, I recommend reading the latest ISDS Newsletter and subscribing to it. If you need a refresher article about this subject, I recommend reading an article entitled "Frequently asked questions about ISDS" from the same source, ISDS Platform. You might also read past articles I've posted about the ISDS clause by simply typing "ISDS" in one of my search engines. 
You may have noticed the same thing is happening here in the USA with major corporations like Microsoft insisting if you want to use their operating system, you must accept a settlement in any dispute with Microsoft by a private arbitration tribunal.
  • How Sudan President’s Russia visit signals strategy alteration? The article gives another indication of how the geopolitical relations are changing in the Middle East as a result of the US Empire's failure to change the Syrian government into a vassal state. This trend is the nightmare of all capitalist directors of the Empire, and the nightmare is apparently causing them fits as suggested by their rather hysterical reactions ("Russiagate", sanctions against Russians and Russian government, etc). 
  • Progress Report on the US-Russian War by "The Saker" (Please know that I don't agree with everything he writes in this or most other articles of his, but I do agree with most of his observations.)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Is Washington the Most Corrupt Government in History?

Click here to access article by Paul Craig Roberts from his website. (I thank Christopher in northwest Oregon for sending me this article.)

I think such a question (in the headline) is the wrong one. It leads one down the wrong path that will lead to nowhere. I doubt that Roberts does this deliberately. He has been so well indoctrinated in capitalist ethics that he simply can't see that once you espouse a system that puts rich individuals at the center of it, that puts individuals who "own" substantial parts of the economy at the center of a social system, that totally organizes all parts of the social system that is usually called patriotically the "American Way of Life" or more benignly, "Western Civilization", then you will have what he now sees as widespread "corruption". I will argue that once you have such a system, you will almost automatically and eventually have widespread "corruption".

At this point we need to define what "corruption" really is. I think we can agree that it reveals itself when behavior, particularly despicable behavior, is at wide variance with the theory of how the system is supposed to function, that is, behavior does not conform to the rules that supposedly govern a society. 

You can find these rules nearly everywhere: most prominently in history textbooks, in the way corporate media frame news events, in the way politicians expound about the glorious "American Way of Life", in some laws passed by governments, particularly in the official founding documents of a nation, etc. All of these rules are described as representing "democracy": the rule of the people by representation, that is, people choose others to represent them in congresses or parliaments and executive branches of government. 

However, laced throughout these rules are another set of rules that sanctify the private ownership of property. Here, I'm not talking about personal property, but property of economic value that has been created by people as a result of their work and their imagination. This property is in essence social property because it is property that has been the result of efforts by more than one person: by the efforts of present living members of society and previous generations of humans throughout the roughly 200,000 years of human existence. 

I'm referring to the set of rules of a social-economic system called capitalism which is a system that has turned nearly everything into a commodity to be bought and sold. You won't find the word "capitalism" often used because the supporters of capitalism prefer other more nice sounding or obscure words such as "free markets", "Wall Street", and even more imaginatively, "democracy". This set of rules which virtually sanctified the "ownership" of social property by individuals resulted over time in a class of people, called capitalists, who were able to accumulate considerable social property which they could essentially use and dispose of as one would personal property. And they as a class soon discovered many other advantages.

Another class of people simultaneously arose under the operation of this system called workers. These people were essentially rented by capitalists to produce value for them. Within this very large group of workers there evolved sub-classes that are nowadays roughly referred  to as professionals, highly skilled, and unskilled workers. Probably a more meaningful way to divide these rented workers is between two categories: salaried and hourly workers. Salaried workers function much more independently than hourly workers who tend to be carefully supervised and must function according to well-defined rules. Among other advantages capitalists have found that dividing up workers this way serves to divide workers which are natural antagonists of capitalists. Also, by giving salaried workers more perks serves to identify these workers with their capitalist masters, their values, and their behaviors.

Actually a third class of worker arose in the history of capitalism, and they were called "slaves". They were also treated as private property to be used as the "owners" saw fit to accumulate wealth. However, this practice was largely abandoned (though it still exists) primarily because owners regarded the renting of workers much more practical and efficient to accumulate wealth. (Think of renting tools when you need them versus owning a large inventory of tools that you have to store and maintain.) 

Capitalists noticed over time as they accumulated economic property and employed large numbers of workers that they had much more influence over decisions of government, over the selection of governors, and over every institution of societies including most especially education and media. Naturally they installed people in every institution that promoted their interests in relation to the accumulation of social property. It almost naturally followed that they began to see the ownership of property brought them not only fabulous wealth, but even more importantly, POWER. (Power is, of course, the ability to have others behave the way you want them to.)  

Thus, the accumulation of wealth was no longer an object by itself, instead the accumulation of power became the prime driving force behind all of capitalist endeavors. The history of capitalism became the history of wars because different national capitalists would compete for power until one faction ruled over the whole world. This is essentially where we are today with the existence of the US-led (capitalist) Empire trying to eliminate every last competing power such as posed by Russia and China. 

There are many directions one could go with this analysis of capitalism, but I will only take one road which many are bothered by--the current media issue of today: sexual harassment. Have you noticed that largely only one class of people have been affected by this: high profile salaried workers? You won't find any major capitalists like Donald Trump being fired from his job over accusations of sexual harassment. Many salaried workers, who often identify with their capitalist bosses, have learned the lessons about sexual behavior from their bosses who routinely take advantage of their powerful positions vis-à-vis their subordinate workers (of either sex). 

I strongly suspect that the capitalist ruling class's current media focus on sexual predations of high profile salaried workers, like their focus on Russiagate and in the recent past on gender-neutral bathrooms, serves to distract people from any coverage about the Empire's war crimes that they are committing in many places of the world and other embarrassing issues such as the decline of living conditions of American workers.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Hassan Nasrallah: the US keep supporting ISIS in every possible way

Click here to access video and transcript of a report by Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Lebanese political and paramilitary party Hezbollah, and posted by "The Saker" on his website, A bird's eye view of the Vineyard

Most of my fellow Americans will be very skeptical about this report; but after many years of witnessing the lies, false-flags, and subversive interference in other countries by our government (in addition to my other knowledge), I am convinced that Nasrallah is telling the truth. And be aware of his final warning:
And the danger is that ISIS is restored again by the Americans in the next stage, with a new name, new slogans and new forms to accomplish the same missions accomplished by ISIS. 

Suddenly, I’m a ‘Russian Agent’!

Click here to access article by Dave Lindorff from CounterPunch. (See also "Russia-gate Inquisitors Subpoena Journalist".)

Lindorff is disturbed by the latest attempt by our ruling class's government to clamp down on information unacceptable to their interests. He also lampoons their attempts and sees such attempts as ridiculous, maybe even laughable. 

Unfortunately for people like him, mostly reformist liberals (read this for an excellent example of reformist thinking), he doesn't really understand the class nature of most of the world that is dominated by mostly Western capitalists, a gang that have aligned themselves with the now US Empire which is backed by the powerful US military-industrial complex. He doesn't understand the viral nature of a self-seeking class that uses a system their ancestors designed to serve their interests as private owners of essentially social property.  

Although he does understand that US capitalists have expanded their activities to much of the world, he doesn't understand the full implications of how US capitalists, who have been joined by other capitalists since WWII (maybe even earlier), to accumulate more ever more profits and power even though these activities are having extremely damaging effects on the lives of people and our entire biosphere. Now the activities of their Empire is threatening a nuclear conflagration. Hence, their desire to control information about the world they have so severely damaged and are continuing to damage and exploit. Their efforts at censorship are perfectly rational given this reality.

So instead of lampooning their attempts at censorship, Lindorff, many Americans, and people throughout the world must be made conscious of these dangerous effects of the runaway virus of capitalism that is slowly and surely causing the extinction of humans. They, like addicts, are so addicted to power and profits that they refuse to face reality, and they definitely don't want us to know this reality either. The only answer to insure the survival of humans is a worldwide revolutionary movement to take away their weapons, extreme wealth, and power. Hence, the war over information--because if they can control our minds, they will control our actions. We must join this war on the side of accurate information and fight against their war to censor information.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Dark Inevitability of Zionism

Click here to access article by Lawrence Davidson from ConsortiumNews.
Following World War II, it became understood that these behaviors and attitudes are morally indefensible and their consequences should be remedied. And so, the United Nations was established, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued, and a number of treaties embodying international laws designating crimes against humanity were signed. With this process the world entered a potentially more civilized, post-colonial age.

When this happened the Zionist project instantly became an anachronism. In fact, Israel became a state that defied the modern norm the moment it was proclaimed.
However, Israel does not want to be outside the norm. It wants to be accepted as a “normal” nation, particularly within the Western state system. There are only two ways this can happen:

The Right Returns to the Religion Well

Click here to access article by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship from ConsortiumNews

The authors comment on the significance of a new museum just blocks away from the nation's capitol and called the "Museum of the Bible", sponsored by the rich right-wing of the ruling class. This may be another indication of the desperation of the ruling class that presides over the killing machine of the US-led Empire.
As the old joke goes, this is what God would do if He had money.

To be fair, by most accounts, the museum is well designed and executed, high-tech and state-of-the-art. Philip Kennicott, art and architecture critic for The Washington Post, wrote, “What it does well, it does as well or better than any museum in the country,” but added:

“There… is a lot of slippage between [the museum’s] claims that the Bible is enormously influential (which is indisputable) and that the stories it tells are fundamentally true (a claim disputed not just by atheists, agnostics, secular scholars and scientists, but also by billions of adherents of the world’s other religions). Every resource of museum design and careful argumentation has been mustered to sweep up these unrelated ideas in one, big, overwhelming package.”
What has many observers far more concerned are connections among the new attraction’s principal funders and the right wing. Here its mission becomes suspect, more political than religious, although with the right wing, it is always difficult to separate the two, each possessing a will to dominate. 

The End of the Syrian War Is the Beginning of a New Middle Eastern Order

Click here to access article by Federico Pieraccini from Global Research.

This article appears to offer an excellent summary of the new geopolitical situation in the Middle East following the defeat of ISIS which was originally promoted primarily by Saudi Arabia, the US, Turkey, Qatar, and Israel to produce regime change in Syria. The Russian involvement in backing the Syrian government proved a crucial factor that tipped the scales (def.) that has ended in a very different geopolitical scene.
The result of the war in Syria has carved out a new Middle East, where the likes of Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Washington, previously regional masters of all they surveyed, appear to have more or less been deliberately cut off from the decision-making process. While it can be argued that Washington has played out its role in the region with the defeat of Daesh, thanks to Trump's "America first" policies that resists direct involvement in conflicts, Riyadh and Tel Aviv do not seem to have any intention of accepting Tehran’s new role in the region, even as it is supported by Turkish and Russian diplomacy and even military might.

The aggression against the Syrian state initially saw a compact front comprising the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, France and the United Kingdom. All were at the forefront of arming, training, financing, assisting and treating the injured of the tens of thousands of terrorists sent to Syria. It was a destabilization operation with few precedents in history.
  

Monday, November 27, 2017

The fascinating People’s account of how the Russian Revolution was actually won (part 3 of 5)

Click here to access article by Ramin Mazaheri from The Greanville Post.

The Iranian-American argues that a recent book entitled A People’s History of the Russian Revolution by Neil Faulkner presents the real story of the Russian Revolution. This recent book borrows heavily from Trotsky's 3-volume History of the Russian Revolution.  

Both Trotsky and Faulkner treated the February revolution as the decisive event that led eventually to the Bolsheviks taking power. It was the people who were decisive in overthrowing the Czarist government; and had the embryonic capitalist class succeeded in co-opting it, you would see the Russian Revolution celebrated in Western media and in their histories. Instead we are fed mostly lies which denigrate this great achievement of the people.  
There is no such thing as a self-made man, nor a one-man revolution – these are both capitalist myths.

The opposite is what is presented in this book: The People’s story of the February Revolution, and how they ended their millennia of rank tyranny.
The people won the allegiance of army veterans, who were of the people and could identify with the people. This was of critical importance. The people instinctively knew not to waste their time with the police, who were carefully recruited to serve the ruling aristocracy. Mazaheri personally saw this also to be true in 2011 while covering events in Egypt.