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, October 23, 2010

Globalization and Militarization: The Root Causes of the Worldwide War against Humanity

by Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat from Global Research

The Admiral was fired from his position as Chief of the Naval Staff of India at the end of 1998 over some dispute about a naval appointment. Other than that, I really know very little about him. What he has written in this article is quite astonishing coming from a former high ranking military person. 

The article rather successfully covers the failures and destructiveness of capitalism, and the need to change the system into something else if humanity is to survive. The author's piece could very well serve as the basis, with some modifications, for a formal declaration of independence from the system. 

Of course, what additionally needs to be addressed is that "something else".  I believe that a new social system needs to be shaped by the systems I've listed at the top right-hand side of this blog. Informing these systems is the understanding of a human nature that can only flourish where humans function in small groups. This has been the experience of humans for 98% of their existence. This is the way we have evolved. Hence, any new system must build upon the small group structure. The latter must serve as a foundation for the political edifice built upon it in order for all power to flow from the bottom up. 

I also believe that such a structure is needed in order to topple the existing capitalist order. Thus, what can successfully challenge and overthrow the existing order can readily be adapted to establishing a new order. What I have in mind is something like affinity groups organized geographically in their communities.

And remember that we as Americans...
...hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The Strike Wave in Europe and the Decay of Bourgeois Democracy

by Barry Grey from World Socialist Web Site

This article provides an excellent survey of the fight-backs across the globe in the class war that is currently being waged against working people. The use of the term "bourgeois democracy" is a refreshingly accurate way of describing the capitalist version of democracy which, of course, is a fake democracy, a thin veneer of managed elections behind which rules the capitalist oligarchs.
Elections, parliamentary debates have no effect on policy. The state does the bidding of the financial aristocracy, tearing up the living standards of the masses in the interests of the bankers who are responsible for the economic crisis. The financiers and corporate executives are making more money than ever by exploiting mass unemployment and growing social distress to slash wages and increase the exploitation of the working class.
It also makes clear that many "left" parties and union leaders are like dogs who, having been domesticated from the original powerful and independent wolves they once were, are now loyal to the ruling classes .
The fight for workers’ power emerges organically and inevitably out of the struggles of the working class against the attacks by the bourgeoisie. It must be conducted consciously, in opposition to the trade unions, the official “left” parties and the various middle-class pseudo-left organizations, such as the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France, that seek to keep the working class tied to the existing political setup and prevent it from mounting an independent struggle for power. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

WikiLeaks Prepares Largest Intel Leak in US History with Release of 400,000 Iraq War Docs

An interview with Daniel Ellsberg on Democracy Now!

Listen to the 20:27m broadcast or read the transcript to learn about the brave American activists as they attempt to report the truths about the war crimes of the Empire. Learn that the Empire's leaders, including Obama, are only interested in keeping the truth about their war crimes from the American people, not suppressing military intelligence or secrets.

The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Bankers Fleeced America, and Launched a Global Crisis

by Michael Hudson from AlterNet.

This is an excerpt of Hudson's recently published book by the same title. It gives the details on how this giant scam worked to enrich a few while bringing down the world's economy.
A few weeks after he started working at Ameriquest Mortgage, Mark Glover looked up from his cubicle and saw a coworker do something odd. The guy stood at his desk on the twenty-third floor of downtown Los Angeles's Union Bank Building. He placed two sheets of paper against the window. Then he used the light streaming through the window to trace something from one piece of paper to another. Somebody's signature.

Glover was new to the mortgage business. He was twenty-nine and hadn't held a steady job in years. But he wasn't stupid. ...Watching his coworker, Glover's first thought was: How can I get away with that?

Talking About Taliban Talks - Just Psyops?

by Steve Hynd from Newshoggers

Some interesting speculations over this latest news phenomenon--Taliban talks.

In relation to the charge that the Taliban talks news releases are psyops, if one asks, "who benefits?", then there is another answer besides that of dividing the Taliban. 

Could it be that this has been engineered by liberal capitalists who wish to enhance the prospects of the Democratic Party as the election nears? (The Afghan war is very unpopular in the US.) I'm not arguing that it is, but it should be considered. 

More important is the evidence that mainstream corporate news is deliberately manipulated for political purposes and should always be considered suspect.

Update on French Strikes

by Richard Greeman from Zcommunications

This longtime US activist who is now living in France gives a fresh report and perspective on the current widespread protests in France. 

I have read some of his essays and find a close correspondence of my political views with his. His politics are founded on the best in the classic anarchist traditions which emphasized control of political structures from the grassroots of society. Hence, he argues, citing historical evidence, that all elites, on both the left and right, inevitably betray their followers. 

Regarding the riots and protests against government proposed cuts to pensions in today's France, he sees much of the protests coming from the grassroots and believes that the left elites, union leaders and left party leaders, would try to contain them, would normally try to reach an accommodation with the capitalist ruling class lead by Sarkozy. But Sarkozy is not cooperating with the left elites.
...the whole country is going wild, and no one knows what will happen between now and two weeks from now. On the government side Sarkozy, ever more intransigent, is pushing up the date of the final vote of his reform in the Senate, while among the youth and workers in transportation, petroleum, chemicals and other key industries the ongoing strikes and spontaneous, daily, local actions are intensifying all over France. One reformist union leader was quoted saying ‘by marginalizing us, Sarkozy turned the power over to the streets.’ So why did Sarkozy put his Presidency on the line by uniting the fractious French unions against him, freezing them out of the action and refusing to negotiate?

French Fury in the EU Cage: "Work Harder to Earn Less"

by Diana Johnstone from Counterpunch.

While mainstream media in the US trivializes the protests is France by simply portraying them as simply protests against lifting the retirement age to 62, this writer tells the real story. The issues there are basically the same as here: the takeaway of all the social-economic gains that working people have achieved since WWII. It's working people fighting back against the neo-liberal agenda. It's naked class war. And once again we see the same divide and conquer strategies being used by the ruling class:
The government has subtly tried to pit one generation against another, by claiming that it is necessary to protect the future of today’s youth, who are paying for the “baby boom” pensioners. It is therefore extremely significant that this week, high school and university students massively began to enter the protest strike movement.  This solidarity between generations is a major blow to the government.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Efforts to Prosecute Blackwater Are Collapsing

by James Risen from The NY Times

This to me illustrates rather dramatically how you can't win through US courts when the interests of the capitalist ruling class is involved. I argued this yesterday in relation to efforts to reform the US Constitution. 

The privatization of war has become a prime tool of this class in order to hide their war crimes, crimes against humanity, and to enrich themselves.
Nearly four years after the federal government began a string of investigations and criminal prosecutions against Blackwater Worldwide personnel accused of murder and other violent crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the cases are beginning to fall apart, burdened by a legal obstacle of the government’s own making.

Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes

by Jesse Drucker from Bloomberg News

In a time when all levels of governments are facing deficits, laying off workers, slashing public spending and welfare, the multi-national corporations are finding ways to not pay taxes. Learn the tax evasion techniques--all legal--of these corporations which often had originally benefited from government financial assistance. 

What is the Obama administration's response? More study.
While the administration “remains concerned” about potential abuses, officials decided “to defer consideration of how to reform those rules until they can be studied more broadly,” said Sandra Salstrom, a Treasury spokeswoman.

Nine Stories The Press Is Underreporting -- Fraud, Fraud And More Fraud

by Dan Froomkin from Nieman Watchdog
What we are seeing all around us are the continued effects of a vast criminal enterprise that has never been brought to account, employing a process that, as University of Texas economist James Galbraith explains, involved the equivalent of counterfeiting, laundering and fencing.
The bank and financial elites, people who constitute most of the ruling class, are above the laws which are only designed to keep working people in line.

Nigeria: Shell Oil's 'License to Kill'

by Abena Ampofoa Asare from Toward Freedom

US court paves the way for multi-national corporations to kill and pollute with impunity. This occurred in a recent ruling against Nigerian activists who protested some of the most egregious environmental destructive actions that has led to the deaths and illnesses of many Nigerians. 

The destruction of the environment in the Niger Delta is an ongoing event that is carried out by the multi-national oil companies through their support of, and in collaboration with, a brutally oppressive government. It is much like a never-ending BP Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, but Africans are of little concern to the US ruling class. See this and this.
Last month, Judge José A. Cabranes of the Manhattan-based federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued a judicial opinion that sent international lawyers, human rights advocates and African environmental activists reeling.

The Time to Act is Now: Defend Free Speech on the Internet

by from American Civil Liberties Union
While President Obama has affirmed his support of network neutrality, saying  “The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way,” the FCC, amid heavy corporate lobbying, is hesitating to do what’s necessary to restore its authority to block broadband providers from discriminating against whom travels its networks and with what load.

Now is the time to act: Two upcoming FCC meetings on November 15 and December 30 could determine the fate of the internet. Contact FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and tell him to reclassify telecommunications carriers and provide strong network neutrality protections.

The internet is for everyone. Don't let the telecoms decide otherwise.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How Voting Perpetuates Evil

by Joel S. Hirschhorn from Dissident Voice.
The only logical conclusion is that lesser-evil voting perpetuates all the cancerous evil plaguing the political system.  This should not surprise anyone.  Regardless of party affiliation, major party candidates convincingly lie to voters and the tons of money poured into politics create a mass propaganda machine from both parties that deceives voters.
I agree completely with the author about not voting in this election. However, I take issue with his recommendation to follow a constitutional process in order to reform the US Constitution.

I believe that pursuing legal changes through the Constitution is an exercise in futility which will only divert and waste political energy. The US Constitution was written by the emerging capitalist class in the US in 1789 which added a veneer of legitimacy to their assumption of power by creating the illusion that the US society would be based on the rule of law. This provided excellent cover for this class of people who had a voracious appetite to own land by any means at their disposal, and their government provided an excellent means. Any wording in the Constitution that got in the way of their pursuit of wealth was simply re-interpreted by their appointees to the Supreme Court. So the Constitution does not give us any real rights that can’t be thwarted by the ruling class.

Before this document was written and before the capitalist class took control of the US, the Declaration of Independence was written which represented the best thinking of that time by Euro-Americans who were challenging the yoke of monarchic/aristocratic ruling classes. This document said some really astonishing things that rallied all Americans to the cause of separation from England. Most important of all is this statement:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
Of course, once the US managed to separate from England, the capitalist class quickly took over and they have been consolidating their wealth and power ever since.

We must not be suckered into playing by their rules because they will beat us every time. I don’t know yet where to start except to stop participating in their election games.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Charter Schools and Civil Rights: What Kind of 'Movement' is This?

by Brian Jones from The Huffington Post.

The author delves into the growing interest in charter schools and wonders where it's leading. Is this a stealth attack on public education in order to privatize it? Might it lead to ever greater segregation?
Perhaps the most important element of the progressive élan surrounding the charter school "movement" is its claim to be nothing less than the "Second Coming" of the Civil Rights Movement. Arne Duncan referred to the opening of the film, Waiting for 'Superman' as a "Rosa Parks moment". A group of hedge fund managers (featured in the Style section of The New York Times last year) who organized a casino night fundraiser for charter schools had the same lofty idea. This cause, a banker from Goldman Sachs declared, is the "civil rights struggle of my generation."
And why are the rich getting involved? Read about one of the latest scams being used by the US rich to enhance their wealth and to exert greater control over education.  Read this article and the comments following the article to learn more.

A new stage in the war on dissent

from Socialist Worker.

Michael Ratner of Center for Constitutional Rights is interviewed by Nicole Colson regarding the various aspects of the recent government raids on activists, legal actions taken against the latter, their implications, and suggestions for activists, especially activist journalists. 
There are two aspects to this. One is that the government can label, without any kind of hearing or way to challenge it, a foreign organization as a terrorist organization. The other is that any American contact with that organization or support for that organization is prohibited.
It is important that activists continue their actions, but they must keep informed of the growing government strategies to limit dissent. This article contributes to that process.

Big Oil Goes to College

by Jennifer Washburn from Center for American Progress

This is a fairly lengthy abbreviated report based on a larger study of...
...a detailed examination of 10 university-industry agreements that together total $833 million in confirmed corporate funding (over 10 years) for energy research funding on campus.
I confess that I only scanned it because I have been aware of this happening frequently over at least the last 20 years involving most major industries. It illustrates once again how the ruling class is tightening its hold over all institutions in the US. I suspect that this is because their rule is increasingly being threatened due to the major problems that their rule, and their system of capitalism, is causing everywhere in the world.
The results of this report’s analysis of these 10 large-scale university-industry contracts raise troubling questions about the ability of U.S. universities to adequately safeguard their core academic and public-interest functions when negotiating research contracts with large corporate funders. This report identifies eight major areas where these contracts leave the door open to serious limitations on academic freedom and research independence.

'Food Empires Creating Agricultural Crisis'

by Frank Mulder from IPS.
Forget speculators, forget biofuel farmers. The real cause behind the permanent food and agricultural crisis is the imperial food regime, squeezing money out of agriculture, a Dutch professor says.
The professor also says:
"The market is more and more dominated by industrial trade conglomerates, like Ahold, Nestle, Cargill, and many more, governing production, processing, distribution and consumption of food. Those empires are able to manipulate markets and squeeze wealth out of agriculture. In this regime, small disequilibria in the markets translate into huge price fluctuations." 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Parasitic Nature of the current Monetary System

by Amanda Morales from Global Research

This piece is, IMO, quite helpful at contributing to the understanding of money which is vital for understanding many of the economic problems that capitalism creates. However, I think that the article needs more clarification and elaboration. Such a source as the book by Ellen Brown entitled, The Web of Debt provides this. 

I think the issue of gold as money or wealth is mishandled in the article. In her introductory remarks she accurately states:
Other inaccurate triggering factors often blamed are inherent human greed, overpopulation, baby boomers, abandonment of the gold standard [my emphasis], fractional reserve banking, fiat currencies, over-consumption and even technology.
However, two paragraphs later she writes:
The amounts deposited at the bank and lent are mere bookkeeping entries, not backed by any real assets (like gold, for instance). 
Gold is mostly an asset because it has become a wealth fetish for many people on the earth. How this has developed, I do not yet understand. It has some limited uses--like, for example, I have some gold crowns in my mouth. Gold (mixed with other metals) is a very hard and durable material. But you can't eat it, you can't put it in your car's gas tank, etc. If you took it to your local grocery store and attempted to buy food with it, I don't think they would know what to do with it.

Mainly what she is arguing against is the privatization of money issuance, and money issued as debt by private banks such as the Federal Reserve (of course, the name itself is a piece of disinformation--there is almost nothing "Federal" about the Federal Reserve--read this). Governments should be issuing money as the productivity of the economy requires it as a medium of exchange in the form of paper. 

Paper is easy and cheap to produce. You don't need to dig up the earth, pollute the environment, use energy to refine it, and then store it in vaults to have a monetary system. And we in the US do use paper money (fiat money, money backed by laws). The problem is that it is issued as debt by private banks. The Federal Reserve (The Fed) creates this electronically, lends it to our government and charges interest, all of which puts us in debt to the Fed. It is my understanding that all central banks in various countries work essentially the same way.

What I don't understand about Global Research website is that they produce a lot of good articles like this, but occasionally they carry articles that are pure crap. For example, this article by Bob Chapman who is a gold fetishist, or articles that undermine the truth about global warming like this.

What's Behind the Foreclosure Crisis

by Numerian from The Economic Populist

This article is especially for those of you who may be facing foreclosure proceedings. Under pressure from financial institutions that were repackaging mortgages into all kinds of "products" and peddling all over the world, they didn't want to bother with following legal procedures in transferring mortgages from one institution to another. Hence the problems they are now having with foreclosing on homeowners. 

Once again, this illustrates how the rich and powerful can ignore laws and get away with it--because they largely make the laws, and control the law enforcement agencies and courts. The legal system is designed to be used against working people.
This crisis at its core revolves around an attempt by banks, mortgage brokers and other financial institutions to privatize and usurp the government-run county record system that for over 200 years has guaranteed the property rights of American citizens. The long term question is whether this private usurpation, which was implemented without review or approval from any elected representatives of the people, should be allowed to stand.

Chile mine rescue exposes precarious working conditions

by Rafael Azul from World Socialist Web Site

I'm starting to find the real information relating to the recent near mine disaster in Chile which, to a large extent, was turned into a positive public relations event for the Chilean mining industry and government. I will continue to find information that has been covered up by billionaire President Sebastián Piñera of Chile, corporate media, and mining interests.
While mining in Chile is generally dangerous, this mine in particular has a history of mining accidents that have killed and injured workers. In 2004, the miners union petitioned for the closure of the mine over its dismal safety record. The petition was driven by the death of miner Pedro Gonzalez from a rock fall. The union’s demand was denied by a Chilean appeals court. In 2007, before the closure of the mine, workers at the mine once again petitioned for its closure, following the death of three miners. Once again, the petition was denied by the courts.

French strike hits fuel supplies

from Al Jazeera

I am running this article for followers of my blog in North America who will likely see very little of this information carried in their corporate media. You see, examples of people fighting back against repressive regimes in Europe might give working people in this country and Canada ideas.
Nationwide strikes over the pension changes have spread to the country's 12 oil refineries over the past seven days, adding to the impact of a three-week-long strike at France's largest oil port, Fos-Lavera, over working conditions and a port overhaul.
See also this 1:44m video from The Real News Network.

Time out

The Global Crisis, The Role and Meaning of Art in Society

by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin from Global Research
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist who has exhibited widely around Ireland. His work consists of drawings and paintings and features cityscapes of Dublin, images based on Irish history and other work with social/political themes.
The author makes some very useful distinctions between "Socialist Realism" and "Revolutionary Romanticism" in reference to art forms.


How propaganda is disseminated: WikiLeaks Edition

by Glenn Greenwald from Salon

The author dissects the ways that the Empire fights back against media sources that reveals its secrets, that is, information that is not reported to Americans by corporate media. Using WikiLeaks as the latest example, the author illustrates how the Empire manages media by use of disinformation, smears, and innuendo to ward off any sources of counter-information.
If our established media is governed by any overarching principle, it's this: when the U.S. military speaks, its pronouncements -- especially in the beginning -- are to be respected, believed and repeated without question or challenge no matter how many times that deference proves to be unwarranted.
Well, of course! The media is a major component of the Empire. It provides all the propaganda needed to "manage the consent" of working people.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Because I am taking the day off, there will be no posts today.