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, December 22, 2018

Julian Assange controversy

by Ron Horn.

I have been mystified by the lack of reporting regarding the plight of Julian Assange in left-wing British websites. I have emailed many of these website badgering and shaming them in order to get some kind of response. To date I have received none, and my patience is running out. So, I decided to do a little research. What follows is what I've gathered in about three hours time.

Last night I spent a frustrating one hour listening to the discussion of the streamed online broadcast of "United in solidarity for Julian Assange" on their website. I found the experience frustrating because the discussion was mostly focused on the legal aspects of his situation which I don't believe merit much attention given the fact that our fascist ruling classes have so little respect for legal procedures. 

Somehow my attention wandered to George Galloway, the outspoken member of the British parliament. He tells it like it is to audiences who often do not want to hear the truth. I discovered via YouTube an excerpt of a talk he made in 2012 in defense of Assange. He was speaking at the Oxford Union to a gathering of rich, ruling class brats. One statement he made at 6:20m into the talk in which he stated "I've never met Julian Assange. I'm told he is a weird fellow." drew my undivided attention. Unfortunately, his remarks were interrupted by a shallow ruling class kid who took this statement to mean that he was making a slur against gay people. However, this statement of his was full of implications that maybe Assange's personal behavior was looked on with disapproval in Britain, and this was the reason why he lacked support. 

This morning I have done further online research to shed light on these implications. Of course, I ran into a number of biased reports against him, but two sources stood out as being reasonably objective: one from the British New Statesman entitled "Jemima Khan on Julian Assange: how the Wikileaks founder alienated his allies" posted in February 2013, and the second posted online in 2010 on The New Yorker entitled "No Secrets". Both give you insights on his personal behaviors that turn people off. I was particularly impressed with the comments of Jemima Khan, the editor of New Statesman, who reached this conclusion:
On the subject of Assange, pundits on both the left and the right have become more interested in tribalism than truth. The attacks on him by his many critics in the press have been virulent and highly personal. Both sides are guilty of creating political caricatures and extinguishing any possibility of ambivalence. “On the other handism” doesn’t make great copy, but in this particular debate everyone is too polarised. The kind of person who spends his life committed to this type of work, wedded to a laptop, undercover, always on the move, with no security, stability or income, is bound to be a bit different. I have seen flashes of Assange’s charm, brilliance and insightfulness – but I have also seen how instantaneous rock-star status has the power to make even the most clear-headed idealist feel that they are above the law and exempt from criticism.

We all want a hero. After WikiLeaks released the infamous Collateral Murder video in 2010, showing US troops gunning down a dozen civilians in Iraq, I jokingly asked if Assange was the new Jason Bourne, on the run and persecuted by the state. It would be a tragedy if a man who has done so much good were to end up tolerating only disciples and unwavering devotion, more like an Australian L Ron Hubbard.
After so many years of being incarcerated in the Ecuadorian embassy, many journalists and activists have risen above these petty grievances to consider the larger issues involved in his confinement. I think there is a lesson to be learned from this experience: activists in general need to be supported by a large organization. The experience of Assange and associates at Wikileaks have reflected an individualistic spirit that is such an integral part of our capitalist culture. We need to think like socialist revolutionaries who recognize that we need each other to keep our limitations and weaknesses in check in order to avoid being in a situation like Julian Assange is in. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Trump plans to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan – report

Click here to access article from The Guardian.
Donald Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, a US official and US media have said, in the latest sign Trump’s patience with America’s longest war is wearing thin.

On Wednesday, Trump rebuffed top advisers and decided to pull all US troops out of Syria, a decision that was swiftly followed by the abrupt resignation of US defence secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday over significant policy differences with the president.

Watch the 9th Vigil for Assange Live Here Tonight

Click here if wish to access the announcement directly from Consortium News.
Consortium News will broadcast live the 9th Online Vigil for Julian Assange as the pressure continues to mount on the WikiLeaks publisher. Among the special guests tonight will be journalist and filmmaker John Pilger, who has just visited Assange at the Ecuador embassy in London.

Join us tonight beginning at 8 pm U.S. EST for the latest Unity4J vigil in support of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. The show will begin with CN Editor Joe Lauria interviewing John Pilger, who’s just been to see Assange.

Why Trump Decided To Remove U.S. Troops From Syria

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

This German expert geopolitical analyst offer his broader view on why Trump decided to withdraw US troops from bases in eastern Syria in spite of neoconservative opposition.
Trump knows that the United States' 'unilateral moment' after the demise of the Soviet Union, which left the U.S. was the sole superpower, is over. Russia is back and China is rising. Trump's policy to adopt [adapt?] to the decreasing U.S. power is to end the 'globalization' that allowed for China's rapid rise. He wants to geopolitical[ly] split this world into two influence spheres. These will be separate from each other in the political, economic, technological and military realms. [my insertions]
....
Trump decided that to prevent Turkey from leaving NATO, and from joining a deeper alliance with Russia, China and Iran, was more important than to further fool around at the margins of the Middle East. It is the right decision.

Why is the United States suddenly withdrawing from Syria?

Click here to access article by Valentin Vasilescu from Voltaire Network

This widely recognized Romanian military analyst and expert explains why the US military operations in Syria were essentially checkmated by Russian-Syrian military coordinated with Turkey's obsession to eliminate all Kurdish forces. One must understand that the Syrian Kurds permitted their forces to be used by the USA which then established numerous military bases on Syrian territory that the Kurds controlled. By doing this, they allied themselves with the US Empire that was trying to destroy the Syrian government.
The US military air bases in Syria consist essentially of troops for special operations. By this we mean a light infantry, without any armour or support. They could not therefore ward off any land attack carried out by the Syrian army supported by the Air Force. Having understood that the US Air Force will not be able to pass the Syrian anti-air barrage without unacceptable losses, any US intervention becomes inappropriate. This is why the US has just announced that it will start to withdraw 2,000 soldiers from Syria [1]. At the same time, Turkey, supported by Russia, is getting ready to launch a new offensive against the YPG in Northern Syria. These new circumstances ensure the Syrian Army will fight on the side of Turkey. The YPG, trained and supported by the United States, is quickly losing all the territories that it had taken from the Islamic State which itself had taken from Syria.
It wasn't Trump abandoning the Syrian Kurds as corporate media pundits and government official declared, but US military analysts who, no doubt, saw that their continued military occupation of Syria was now untenable. 

(You may also be interested in Elijah J. Magnier's take on the withdrawal of US forces by reading "USA announces withdrawal from the Levant: time for all parties to rethink their next move".)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

World’s governments indulge in symbolism, not action, at COP24

Click here to access article by Pete Dolack from his blog Systemic Disorder.

Our masters, the owners of the economic enterprises in which we work but have no voice, in the mostly capitalist class-structured world met to discuss measures to halt global warming and the destabilization of our climate, but did essentially nothing. What did you expect?
... our descendants will curse us for doing essentially nothing to combat global warming as they evacuate from flooded coastal cities and struggle to minimize large-scale agricultural disruptions. Each year that nothing concrete is done, the likelihood of catastrophic environmental damage increases. And there are not many years left before worst-case scenarios become inevitable. Just two months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report on the effects of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and that of 2 degrees warming. There is a significant difference between the expected results of 1.5 and 2 degrees, but the effects at 1.5 are nonetheless serious. The Earth has already warmed by 1 degree, and the IPCC report states that, if current patterns continue, 1.5-degree warming will be reached between 2030 and 2052.

Thus, catastrophic changes well beyond what we are already experiencing could begin to occur in as few as 12 years.

US withdrawal from Syria is ‘major blow’ to Kurdish forces: envoy

Click here to access article from AMN (Al-Masdar Al-‘Arabi--The Arab Source).

My esteem for the investigative reporting of Pepe Escobar just grew greater after the news that Trump ordered US troops out of Syria and abandoning the Syrian Kurds. Back in 2014 he warned that the USA was merely using these people for their own geopolitical interests and would likely abandon them when the Kurds no longer served the Empire's interests. That day has come. However, Escobar was also caught up in the well-touted progressive nature of the Syrian Kurds like many other leftists. Also, Eric Draitser warned about the cynical nature of US intervention to help the Kurds when they were in danger of being wiped out by ISIS. (Unfortunately, Draitser seems no longer to be publishing much of significance.)

But following these warnings we saw various sources extolling the "progressive nature" of the Syrian Kurds. For some examples, read articles by David Graeber and Marcel Cartier who uncritically and consistently accepted the entire progressive themes of the Syrian Kurds. Graeber now appears on the board of The Region which to me smells like a Zionist propaganda operation.

One website, Reflections on a Revolution, vigorously promoted the progressive nature of the Syrian Kurds. ROAR which was founded by Jerome Roos 2011 and sold it a few years ago to a Dutch based "equity fund" by the name of "Democracy and Media Education Foundation". Jerome remained as editor. Now I notice that it is referred to as "Dutch Foundation for Autonomous Media". Whether Roos is some Israeli agent running a propaganda organization or a misguided "progressive" who genuinely believes the progressive narrative cannot be determined. I do know that he never posted or published articles by independent journalists who saw indications that suggested there were also narrower Kurdish aims involved as well as the geopolitical aims of the US Empire: establishing a Kurdish nation by linking up with the Iraqi Kurds and the Syrian Kurds being used as a pawn by the US Empire to justify their military incursion. I am referring to articles I posted by Thierry Meyssan, Marwa Osman, Alison Banville, Brandon Turbeville, Sarah Abed, Stephen Gowans, etc.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Recommended articles for Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The inability of capitalism and the nation-state system to resolve the climate crisis was on display over the past two weeks in Katowice, Poland, the site of yet another UN-sponsored climate summit. The representatives of more than 200 governments, including 25,000 bureaucrats, scientists and diplomats, could not even agree to endorse a report on the looming dangers of global warming, let alone take any serious action to forestall it.

They adopted a meaningless rulebook to implement the Paris climate agreement, which climate scientists regard as completely inadequate.
A socialist response to climate change cannot take place through the Democratic Party or within the framework of capitalism. It requires the organization of production according to a rational, scientific plan on a global scale. This requirement is fundamentally incompatible with both the private ownership of humanity’s productive forces (and the subordination of production according to the profit interests of the capitalist class), and the continued division of the world into rival national states, who compete on behalf of their own capitalist class for markets, profits and geostrategic control.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Preface to "The Enemy of Nature"

Click here to read this preface to a new book by Joel Kovel (by the above title), and posted on The Greanville Post.
I wrote The Enemy of Nature according to the principle that the truth – a sufficiently generous and expansive truth, it may be added – can make us free. If truth gives clarity and definition to our world, if it weans us from dependency on alienating forces that sap our will and delude our mind, and if it can bring us together with others in a common empowering project – a project that gives us hope that we can become the makers of our own history – why, then, then it makes us free even if what it reveals is terrible to behold. Better this than the unrevealed terror in the dark, unenvisioned, without opening to hope, better than what inertly weighs on us under the aegis of the capitalist order.

The Enemy of Nature was written in service of such an ideal. It tries to give expression to an emerging and still incomplete realization that our all-conquering capitalist system of production, the greatest and proudest of all the modalities of transforming nature which the human species has yet devised, the defining influence in modern culture and the organizer of the modern state, is at heart the enemy of nature and therefore humanity’s executioner as well.
I think to clarify this issue, I would assert that nature in general will not be threatened or assaulted by the activities of capitalists; but that part of nature--our habitat on this planet--is being, and will be, destroyed by them. The planet will hardly blink at the disappearance of humans and so many other species that they will have destroyed. New species will thrive without us.

How Putin's Russia Weaponizes X

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.
Several of the pieces listed [below in the article] in it are products of the recently uncovered British government financed disinformation campaign, or of similar efforts by other governments. But these are only a part of the general anti-Russian reflex that is ingrained in our 'western' culture. Nothing else can explain the craziness of these 'weaponizing' claims. [my insertion]

The updated list with some 65 issues, ideas and things that Russia allegedly 'weaponizes' will hopefully help to convince people that most of what is said or written about Russia is likewise blatant nonsense. 
Why people believe such nonsense is a mystery to me. Given that such propagandists very often project onto others, in this case Russia, what the agents of the Empire are actually doing, is something we should all worry about. For example, read this article entitled "Just like Color Revolutions, Cyber Conflicts can Still Get People Killed" by Martin Berger.

Film on the CIA “On Company Business”

Click here if you wish to access the restored film directly from Counter Currents

It was first created in 1980 in VHS format, but now reformatted to view over the web. It is in three parts which last nearly three hours. Right now I don't remember having previously viewed this film; but because I was very politically oriented at the time of its original production, I was very aware of the CIA's role in the creation of the US-led capitalist Empire after WWII. 

I plan to view the film shortly, probably tonight. I don't usually post videos that I have not previously seen, but this looks very authentic and has the support of people who are interested in piercing the barrage of Empire propaganda that we, the people, are flooded with from every direction while living in the USA. I will express my views on it as soon as I am able to watch all three parts of it. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Climate Change and the Limits of Reason

Click here to access article by Michael F. Duggan from The Greanville Post. (On 12/19/2018 at 9:40 AM CT, I changed the title of this article to the accurate one by eliminating the misleading title "What have you done to help the planet today?".)
Is it too late to avoid a global environmental catastrophe? Does the increasingly worrisome feedback from the planet indicate that something like a chaotic tipping point is already upon us? Facts and reason are slender reeds relative to entrenched opinions and the human capacity for self-delusion. I suspect that neither this article nor others on the topic are likely to change many minds.
With atmospheric carbon dioxide at its highest levels in three to five million years with no end in its increase in sight, the warming, rising, and acidification of the world’s oceans, the destruction of habitat and the cascading collapse of species and entire ecosystems, some thoughtful people now believe we are near, at, or past a point of no return.

Twenty-One Thoughts On The Persecution Of Julian Assange

Click here to access article by Caitlin Johnstone from her blog.

This gutsy Aussie woman lists 21 reasons why she posts articles regarding the plight of Julian Assange. She also participated in the recent three hour marathon broadcast called United in Solidarity for Julian Assange.

The Coming of the American Behemoth: The Origins of Fascism in the United States, 1920–1940

Click here to access a synopsis of a book by Michael Joseph Roberto, its author, posted on Monthly Review. (Edited for clarity at 2:52 PM CT.)
Most people in the United States have been trained to recognize fascism in movements such as Germany’s Third Reich or Italy’s National Fascist Party, where charismatic demagogues manipulate incensed, vengeful masses. We rarely think of fascism as linked to the essence of monopoly-finance capitalism, operating under the guise of American free enterprise. But, as Michael Joseph Roberto argues, this is exactly where fascism’s embryonic forms began gestating in the United States, during the so-called prosperous 1920s and the Great Depression of the following decade. [my emphasis]
Yes, the USA began gestating (def. #2) fascism during this period. After our masters in the ruling capitalist class gained so much confidence from their success in WWI involving our young men and women to go overseas to fight in order to insure the success of, and secure their loans to, Britain and France. During and after the war they went on a rampage against any dissident groups using the passage of the onerous Espionage Act of 1917 which they will likely use to put away Julian Assange in a solitary confinement cell for the rest of his life.

However, the birth of quasi-fascism came in 1941 as I explained in these posts: here and here. He splits hairs by writing:
This book is a necessity for anyone who fears America tipping ever closer, in this era of Trump, to full-blown fascism.
The only difference between quasi-fascism and "full-blown" fascism is that many of us still maintain a delusion that we are ruled by some form of democracy. The difference is the difference between overt fascism and disguised fascism. Some difference! It's far more cost-effective to delude people than to threaten them with violence. This delusion has been accomplished by our masters' control over every ideological institution including most especially print and electronic media, education, and Hollywood films. Because of this delusion they had no problem with the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, a number of Black Panthers, students at Kent and Jackson State colleges, etc. Following the false-flag project of 9/11 they insured and reinforced their success by militarizing their police forces, installing 24/7 surveillance of us, censorship of alternative views, and establishing the legal framework of fascism by the passage of the Patriot Acts in case their propaganda campaigns are not successful. I am comforted by his contention that we don't have "full-blown fascism". (sarcasm)

MasterCard, Bill Gates and their “war on cash”

Click here to access article by Norbert Haering from posted on the Real-World Economics Review Blog. (This article is the last section of a complete article entitled "Who is behind the campaign to rid the world of cash?" by Haering from their hard copy of the journal Real-World Economics Review. On my PDF download the article comprises pages 10-13.)

This German economist has been carefully following the project by our financial masters to do away with cash and substitute only digital money which they can entirely control. It also offers the advantages (to them) that they can track your movements by where you spend the money and on what you spend your digital money. Yes, digital money would be far more convenient, but it does come at some costs to your privacy and the control of your own money. When the next time major financial institutions fail again as they did in 2008, they could easily take the money out of our accounts to bail them out. As long as we have ruling classes such abuses will occur. There are a number of reasons we should do away with ruling classes, and this is one more reason. 

The general public seems sound asleep on this issue, and the ruling classes want to keep it that way so that they can slip digital money by you without your being fully aware of the consequences. 
At their industry meetings and in front of financial analysts, banks and card companies like to be bold and explicit about their goal to get rid of cash. However, if the general public is listening, the strategy is one of laying low. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommends letting the decline of cash appear to be a gradual and unplanned side-effect of unrelated measures and developments. The fund advises governments to let the private sector go ahead, because direct official action would cause popular resistance. If they did act, governments should start with harmless seeming steps like phasing-out large denomination notes or (initially) generous upper limits for cash payments. While measures against cash should be presented to be unplanned and independent, they should in truth be closely coordinated with the private sector, recommends the IMF-author.
The article goes on to explain that our masters have been advised on some other strategies to keep us passive and quiet about this issue.