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, September 3, 2011

High profits, low taxes

Click here to access article by David Ruccio from Real-World Economics Review. 

Here is more evidence to support the truth of Warren Buffet's statement that, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Caligula's Orgy

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News.
It has been ten years now since this country began beating its plowshares into swords and beating its people into submission. It has been ten years of Caligula's orgy, ten years of banquets and fine feasts, ten years of high tech weaponry and low tech poverty, of high tax cuts and low wage cuts and an age of societal dissolution. A time when children go hungry and criminals go free, a masochistic time where we as a nation cut ourselves by punishing the poor for the crimes of the rich when the government of the people and by the people blames the people for the crimes of their government.

California Ignores Its Own Scientists on Dangerous Pesticide

Click here to access article by David Lawlor from Civil Eats. 

It's profit über alles including scientists!
Applying a cancer-causing poison on California’s farm fields sounds like some dastardly plot hatched by a Batman super-villain. Unfortunately, reality is often scarier than fiction. In December 2010, the State of California approved the known carcinogen methyl iodide for use on the state’s farm fields. Yes, you read that right—a chemical that actually causes cancer was approved to be applied on the fields that grow the Golden State’s most prized crops.
See also this piece from the San Jose Mercury.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Escaping Mumana'a and the US-Saudi Counter-Revolution: Syria, Yemen, and Visions of Democracy

Click here to access article by Ahmad Shokr and Anjali Kamat from Jadaliyya. 

This is an interview with Fawwaz Trabulsi, a Lebanese leftist historian at Lebanese American University in Beirut, who provides a number of interesting insights on what is happening in the Middle East with a focus on Syria and Yemen. For example, regarding Syria:
Now, one thing should be said about the Syrian movement: it’s been very much a rural movement. Contrary to the Egyptian revolution, which was almost entirely urban, the Syrian uprising is not. There are a couple of reasons for this.... 
And, regarding Yemen:
The positive thing that has happened recently is that the Yemeni opposition has united to elect what they call a transitional national council—majlis watani intiqali. It was inspired by the initial Egyptian transitional council that never materialized, but in Yemen they actually did it. I think it has 142 people representing all the regions of Yemen. The council was declared late last month against a lot of pressure on the more traditional opposition by both the American administration and the Saudis to delay its formation as it “complicates matters.”  

The ethics of digital direct action

Click here to access article by Gabriella Coleman from Al Jazeera. 

This academic has an ethical concern about the use of the internet for political purposes when such attacks interfere with internet services. She especially focuses on a hackers group called "Anonymous" which attacked banking sites in retaliation for their denial of services to people wanting to contribute to Wikileaks. 

She seems blithely unaware that the internet has already been used by numerous governments as a political weapon to surveil and attack activists. See this, this, and this. The ruling class will use every weapon at their disposal to maintain their rule, and so must we to save society from the catastrophes that await us if we do nothing. It's clear to me that we are presently witnessing the early stages of a worldwide class war.
The political movement known as Anonymous has managed to capture the attention of the media, the hearts of many supporters, and the ire of many spectators after an eight-month spree of political interventions, stretching from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) campaigns, to human rights technical assistance in Tunisia, to a more recent spate of hacks under the guise of Operation Antisec.

'Grow or die' measure heads south

Click here to access article by Gerry Gold from A World to Win.

The author explains the significance of the latest purchasing managers indexes that indicates little growth in the US economy which in the past 30-40 years has been artificially stimulated by the constant use of credit steroids. 
...the share of production costs received by US workers as wages, salaries and benefits was driven down throughout the era of corporate globalisation. In the wake of the 2007/8 credit crisis it plummeted to a historic low of 58% in 2010 even as corporate profits soared. US workers, the so-called “middle-class”, can no longer afford to be the pumped-up credit-enhanced consumers who used to absorb so much of the world’s output. 

Chile Joins Year Of “Global Indignation”

Click here to access article by Corinna Lotz from A World to Win. 
An estimated 70-80% of Chileans support the student movement with parents and grandparents joining their children in massive street protests. Last week, up to half a million people took part in strikes and demonstrations around the country as the Workers United Center of Chile joined in with a 48-hour strike. Over a thousand arrests were made as the state struck back.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hansen Says Obama Will Be 'Greenwashing' About Climate Change if He Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

Click here to access article by Christa Marshal from NY Times.

The only problem with this report is that it conforms to the mythology about bourgeois democracy that it provides leaders who make decisions. Forgetting for a moment that the elections are carefully managed so that only a safe, select few are presented as candidates for us to vote for, such "leaders" are fully aware that they are merely employees of international capitalism whose headquarters is in the US. Their values and policies nearly always conform exactly with those of their employers. However, even when they might differ, these employees ("leaders") know that they have no real alternative other than following orders from at least a major section of the ruling capitalist class. 

To be sure, although basic interests are identical, policies of the capitalist ruling class are not completely monolithic. There will always be differences of opinion regarding how aggressively to exploit workers and the environment to promote the accumulation of wealth for this class. It's just that the range of differences is always within acceptable limits. That is one reason why we see two political parties. The other reason is to present the illusion of choice for its citizens who have been indoctrinated to believe that they have real choices. 

Regarding the use of fossil fuels, there is little debate in the ruling class regardless of how polluting or dangerous they are. Extremely hazardous nuclear power will be pursued for the very same reasons. The profit addiction of capitalism requires growth and more energy, and more energy right now. So, you see, the addiction is not to fossil fuels, it is to profits. It's just that fossil fuels can give capitalists their "profit high" quicker and cheaper than other forms of energy. And, like all addictions, nothing else matters but that next fix.

If you follow this argument, you will realize that the Obama administration really has no alternative but to promote the Keystone XL pipeline. Because it has made noises in the past favoring environmental concerns, members of the administration will likely try to camouflage their support so that the public isn't very aware of what's happening, and mainstream media will be very helpful in this effort.
With the protests currently getting scattered news coverage, mainly from print and online outlets such as The New Yorker and The Huffington Post, it's not clear the rallies are capturing the public's attention much at all, they say.
And, then of course, there is always the jobs argument. 

After finishing this commentary, I came across this article in the Guardian entitled, "Obama administration backs oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas", and dated the same day as the above article. I've seen very little coverage of this issue anywhere in US mainstream media. One exception is this interview on Fox News' O'Reilly program.

The neoliberal assault on university education

Click here to access article by Carlos Delclós from Roarmag. 
While global elites continue their cynical assault on higher education unabated, the global student movement shows us that another world is possible.

The revolution will not be commercialized

Click here to access article by by Jérôme E. Roos from Roarmag.

In looking for new profits, capitalists are often not very discriminating. Yes, apparently they think there are profit opportunities in revolutions!
Increasingly, global advertising agencies are beginning to capitalize on growing revolutionary sentiments within society. Their manipulation is bound to fail.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Complete English Translation Of German Military Analysis Of Peak Oil Now Available

Click here to access article by Rick Munroe from Energy Bulletin.

A review of this report (in German) was made earlier in June by Munroe, but in this brief article he gives us a link to the full translation in English. (In case you're wondering, they average out the estimates of peak oil to happen before 2020.)

The following section of the Bundeswehr report that I have copied below should serve as a key summary of what we have to look forward to if we continue to be ruled by capitalists. The system, as indicated under the "medium term" effects, is going to collapse anyway; so why why don't we hurry it along so that we can greatly reduce the effects of the other catastrophes listed below? Furthermore, the elimination of capitalism could free up humanity's creative energies to construct societies of social justice, real democracy, and societies that would be capable of living in peace with each other and in harmony with nature. The alternative?

In the short term, the global economy would respond proportionally to the
decline in oil supply.

1. Increasing oil prices would reduce consumption and economic output. This would
lead to recessions.
2. The increase in transportation costs would cause the prices of all traded goods to
rise. Trade volumes would decrease. For some actors, this would only mean losing
sources of income, whereas others would no longer be able to afford essential food
3. National budgets would be under extreme pressure. Expenditure for securing food
supplies (increasing food import costs) or social spending (increasing unemployment
rate) would compete with the necessary investments in oil substitutes and green tech.
Revenues would decrease considerably as a result of recession and necessary tax
In the medium term, the global economic system and all market-oriented economies would collapse. [my emphasis]

1. Economic entities would realise the prolonged contraction and would have to act on
the assumption that the global economy would continue to shrink for a long time.
2. Tipping point: In an economy shrinking over an indefinite period, savings would
not be invested because companies would not be making any profit. For an
indefinite period, companies would no longer be in a position to pay borrowing costs
or to distribute profits to investors. The banking system, stock exchanges and
financial markets could collapse altogether.
3. Financial markets are the backbone of global economy and an integral component of modern societies. All other subsystems have developed hand in hand with the
economic system. A disintegration can therefore not be analysed based on today’s
system. A completely new system state would materialise.
         Nevertheless, for illustration purposes here is an outline of some theoretically 
         plausible consequences:     
  • Banks left with no commercial basis. Banks would not be able to pay
    interest on deposits as they would not be able to find creditworthy companies, institutions or individuals. As a result, they would lose the basis for their business.
  • Loss of confidence in currencies. Belief in the value-preserving function of money would dwindle. This would initially result in hyperinflation and black markets, followed by a barter economy at the local level.
  • Collapse of value chains. The division of labour and its processes are based on the possibility of trade in intermediate products. It would be extremely difficult to conclude the necessary transactions lacking a monetary system.
  • Collapse of unpegged currency systems. If currencies lose their value in their country of origin, they can no longer be exchanged for foreign currencies. International value-added chains would collapse as well.
  • Mass unemployment. Modern societies are organised on a division of labour basis and have become increasingly differentiated in the course of their histories. Many professions are solely concerned with managing this high level of complexity and no longer have anything to do with the immediate production of consumer goods. The reduction in the complexity of economies that is implied here would result in a dramatic increase in unemployment in all modern societies.
  • National bankruptcies. In the situation described, state revenues would evaporate. (New) debt options would be very limited, and the next step would be national bankruptcies.
  • Collapse of critical infrastructures. Neither material nor financial
    resources would suffice to maintain existing infrastructures. Infrastructure interdependences, both internal and external with regard to other subsystems, would worsen the situation.
  • Famines. Ultimately, production and distribution of food in sufficient quantities would become challenging.

Huffington Post-AOL's Black Voices Are Just More Corporate White Noise

Click here to access script and/or 4:28m audio by Bruce Dixon from Black Agenda Report. (Audio access is at the end of the script.)

I was curious about the sale of Huffington Post website, which is known for its environmental coverage, to AOL, which is an aggressive corporation, for a large sum of money. 

If you have been noticing the proliferation of ads, and ads relating to your interests on your favorite sites, then you already have some evidence to support the excellent explanation that Dixon provides for the sale of Huffington Post. 

His explanation and anecdote about prison abuses illustrate how we can expect AOL to use this site more to increase profits than to enlighten us on environmental issues. 

This is also a larger illustration of how corporations insert themselves and their interests everywhere in our society where they see prospects for profit in order to accumulate more wealth for the less than 1% of our society. Their large impact has the unfortunate side effect of marginalizing or diminishing the impact of influences that can sustain and enhance the lives of the rest of us--the vast majority of the population.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gold campaign moves to accept Bitcoin: "More than ever, we need an alternative currency"

Click here to access article by Sakura Saunders from SF Bay Area Independent Media Center. 

I know very little about the Bitcoin concept, but it might very well be a good alternative to what we have now: an irrational system of global money management under the control of the capitalist ruling classes and serving only their interests. Gold and silver have always been promoted as having intrinsic value to the point where most people believe it, and the metals have become fetishes. As a result ongoing destruction of ecosystems and human right atrocities occur daily. This fact goes unreported in mainstream news, but I hear about it almost daily from Rights Action which focuses only on Central and South America.  

So, why do capitalist love to promote gold and silver as money, as having intrinsic value? Because they can control these commodities and thus control wealth to serve their interests. Real wealth consists of things and services that make life easier and richer in all ways--psychologically, socially, and spiritually. All of these things and services are created by working people, but their creative energies are impeded by the hoarding instincts of capitalists who insist that gold, silver, and money is real wealth simply because their elaborate systems of money, financial management, market casinos, and property rights make it possible for the capitalist class to control and possess these forms of wealth. 

For more details on the chaos that these systems cause, I challenge you to wade through this article from Der Spiegel entitled, "Out of Control: The Destructive Power of the Financial Markets".

NATO faces 'catastrophic success' in Libya

Click here to access article by An Huihou from Jiefang Daily (China).

One must often go to foreign sources not involved in wars to find out what is really going on. Ruling classes always lie about their wars. I believe that this article provides some accurate details of what has happened in Libya during the past eventful month. 
There are two main reasons for the sudden victory of the opposition forces. First, Western countries not only launched air strikes and provided a large amount of weapons to the opposition forces but also sent ground troops to Libya. According to recent media reports, France, the United Kingdom and Italy had dispatched Special Forces to Libya to help the opposition troops finally win the ground war. Second, Western countries reportedly bought over almost all senior officials of the Qaddafi regime. In brief, Western countries planned and directed the opposition forces' capture of Tripoli. 
I assume the translated phrase of "bought over" is not a typographical error and that it means that the senior officials were bribed to defect. It makes perfect sense that political operatives of capitalist NATO would employ such a tactic. 

It appears that NATO's war crimes against humanity are becoming so obvious that even people in their ruling classes are concerned.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A World to Win | Manifesto of Revolutionary Solutions

Click here to access article from A World to Win (Britain).

This manifesto, a work-in-progress, is a major contribution toward the construction of new societies based on humanistic and ecological principles which must be created if the human race is to survive. Presently there are six sections to the document which can serve as a framework for all working people to rally around and to develop further. 

There is so much content here that is marvelous. I'd like to see much more participation by people in its construction. At present, I have only one comment to make on it which I have already submitted. It is in relation to the wording of the Charter of Rights in the section entitled, "Claiming democracy for the people":
Charter of Rights

A new constitution would enshrine a Charter of Economic and Social Rights based on citizenship for all and should include:

  •     the right to co-operative ownership and self-management in workplaces
  •     employment for those who can work and average pay for those who cannot
  •     the right to a standard of living adequate for health and wellbeing
  •     decent housing at affordable cost for everyone
  •     free education for students at all ages; the right to free continuing education   and training
  •     equal pay and job opportunities for women; free child care
  •     free health care at all levels
  •     dignity in old age through pension provision at average income, and free social care
  •     safe and nutritious food at affordable prices
  •     rights to live in an environment shaped by ecological care and basic human needs.
This may be quibbling, but I think that these items should be framed as "objectives" of the new societies. Labeling them as "rights" is too much like the language of a social contract between labor and capital. The new societies must leave no room for capitalists or any other privileged segment of the population. Framing it as "objectives" makes us responsible for creating what we want.

One Year After the G20 Protests: Forms of Protest Reflect Our Power

Click here to access article by Clarice Kuhling from New Socialist (Canada).

This article provides some excellent background on organized labor, its alienation from activist youth, and some excellent suggestions on how to bridge the gap by using more effective militant tactics in future confrontations with highly organized capital.
"Smashing shit up," then, is both an expression of this context and a direct reflection of the low level of struggle and resistance in labour unions and on the left.

...These tactics keep reappearing precisely because they represent a wholesale departure from the forms of passive politics and bureaucratically controlled resistance that have increasingly monopolized the political terrain of working-class struggle in the last half-century in both Canada and the US.

The Miserable Ones

Click here to access article by David Glenn Cox from OpEd News.

Another tragic story of an American architect who has become one of the millions of the new "Les Misérables" that banksters and capitalists are creating across the globe.
I'm going to tell you a story today, it's a story about you and me and it's a story about a father and son. In a larger sense it's a story about America because a story like this only happens in America. I doubt that it happens even in third world countries but it might happen in places like India where people live in wretched poverty, and it might happen during times of war or famine, but this is America, isn't it? 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Riots Reveal Britain’s Forbidden Truth

Click here to access article by John Pilger from Green Left (Australia).

On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more, who waved me aside.

They surrounded a young black man who, like me, was ambling along. They appropriated him; they rifled his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time.

Chile strike: Clashes mar anti-government protest

Click here to access report from BBC.
Tens of thousands of Chileans have taken to the streets on the second and final day of a general strike to call for far-reaching reforms.
This insurrection stemmed from student protests against socially unjust education policies in Chile. For much more background on this, you must read this article by Ramona Wadi from Upside Down World.
The ongoing student protests in Chile are an unwavering accomplishment aimed at combating the social injustice riddling the country's education system. What started out as a series of peaceful protests has become a manifestation of unity between students, artists and much of the general population in a stance defying the current government’s position regarding social class, cultural difference and political division with regard to education. 
From this report it seems that after the CIA assisted overthrow of the democratically elected government of socialist Allende in 1973, US neoconservatives imposed their influence on Chilean educational policies. And, if they sound familiar, it is because the policies are very much like those being presently implemented right here in the US. 

You see, under the new hegemony of global capitalism, unjust social policies are being introduced everywhere. For the global ruling class of capitalists, boundaries pose no restraints in the pursuit of their interests; they are only used now to control the movement and exploitation of working people. Unless we as workers organize globally and fight back like the Chileans, the Greeks, the Spaniards, the Palestinians, Egyptians, the British, etc, the end result will be a tiny global elite living in luxury on heavily fortified islands amidst oceans of impoverished working people--a tiny 1st world and a huge 3rd world existing everywhere in the world. 

But, take heart, here is some evidence that working people are beginning to organize across boundaries throughout the world.

Voices are calling from the other side of the sea

Click here to access article by Jérôme E. Roos from Roarmag.
Now that the Gods had failed and the pigs been bailed, it was time for the halls of power to be scaled. They shook the walls with their voices, humble yet brazen, and firmly set their fearless gaze upon the invisible chains that bound them. On that beautiful day in May, the people took back their streets. Reclaimed their squares. And regained their dignity. The word quickly spread from land to land. Have you heard? The people have risen. And things will never be the same again.