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, March 16, 2013

New video: "Peril in the Pacific"

Click here to access article from Friends of the Earth.

The following 11:12m video explains in a very short time how these international treaties negotiated in secret by capitalist sponsored national leaders and corporate agents undermine national sovereignty and give license to corporations to plunder the environment. 


The article is laced with so many naive questions about the injustice of these treaties, and in general it seems to be asking only for a "fair deal". What the film and especially the article fail to explain is that the system of globalized corporate power, in the current developmental phase of capitalism, neoliberalism, makes such treaties and their disasters inevitable. Thus, there is no way that a fair deal can be worked out while capitalism continues to exist. Capitalists, addicted to the wealth and power that their system supplies, are determined to continue to exploit wealth from both nature and workers regardless of the consequences.

In this current period, globalized industrial and financial corporations are finding that their operations are being hampered by the older capitalist "democratic" institutions ensconced in national sovereignty. Such institutions served their local capitalist elites very well in earlier times before capitalists themselves and their operations became globalized. Now what we are seeing is that this class of people are subverting these national institutions by substituting international corporate-friendly trade bodies to adjudicate disputes. This is part of a pattern that we are seeing all over the world. This is what has happened in Europe where corporate-financial-friendly, unelected people are increasingly deciding economic policies to the detriment of working people.

NAFTA at 20: The New Spin

Click here to access article by Manuel Perez-Rocha and Javier Rojo from Foreign Policy in Focus
Despite the devastating and ongoing drug war, the story now goes that Mexico is poised to become a “middle-class” society. As establishment apostle Thomas Friedman put it in the New York Times, Mexico is now one of “the more dominant economic powers in the 21st century.”
Although NAFTA may have been good for Wall Street, the authors explore the terrible effects on ordinary people in Mexico.
As the 20th anniversary of NAFTA approaches, however, the verdict is indisputable: NAFTA failed to spur meaningful and inclusive economic growth in Mexico, pull Mexicans out of unemployment and underemployment, or reduce poverty. By all accounts, it has done just the opposite.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Bulgarian winter of protests

Click here to access article by Mariya Ivancheva from Open Democracy.
...what is certain is that the camel’s back has been broken in Bulgaria. Bulgarians have joined larger processes that shook the region - Romania last winter, Slovenia, Hungary, Macedonia and Kosovo this season. Slogans of the Occupy, Indignados, and Greek anti-austerity movements now fill the streets. People are less willing to trust traditional representative democracy, and they are starting to organize themselves in working groups to discuss organizational alternatives and propose new legislative measures. They speak of new mechanisms and forms of political, economic, and social participation.
I've seen not a whisper of mainstream reporting of the dramatic collapse of the Bulgarian government due to widespread protests of citizens. The latter have recently been objecting to the symptoms of privatization that Bulgaria and the rest of what was the Soviet bloc are now experiencing due to the collapse of the Soviet version of communism which collapsed in 1989. 

The apparatchiks who ran the government and industry in these countries reached a dead-end under their class leadership, and looked enviously at their Western capitalist counterparts who enjoyed so much power and wealth. Thus, 1989 they decided to accelerate the benefits of class rule by adopting capitalist methods.

If you want to learn more about this remarkable transition, I especially recommend reading Sale of the Century by Chrystia Freeland who while in the Soviet Union during the transition years witnessed the conversion of state properties into private hands, which were mostly the former apparatchiks and well-connected, for incredibly low prices that really constituted wholesale theft. And voila! A new class of wealthy oligarchs were instantly created! Freeland, a Canadian, is no radical, but a Western journalist who, while sometimes offering excuses, mostly reports on what happened.

Begging Obama to Turn on His Banker Friends

Click here to access article by Glen Ford from Black Agenda Report. (You have the option of reading the transcript of Ford's broadcast commentary, or listening to it by clicking on the audio link at the end of the transcript.)

Ford ridicules the shallow thinking that still infects many US activists who want to change government policies via petitions. I've probably signed thousands of petitions over the past 50 years and I've seen our government sink deeper into the morass of corruption, secret and not so secret wars, a growing police state, privatizations, attacks on social programs, etc. 
Outfits like the Campaign for a Fair Settlement encourage this kind of delusional thinking, that Obama is the good guy who needs our help. The petitioners urge Obama to “secure his legacy as a champion of justice.”
Ford accurately sources all these symptoms to a ruling class: "...the concentrated capital of the financial class...." And, of course, this class derives its power and wealth from the system of capitalism that it has successfully imposed on most of humanity for the past 300 plus years.

Japan's 'frozen gas' is worthless if we take climate change seriously

Click here to access article by George Monbiot from The Guardian
Like all the nations which continue to extend the fossil fuel frontier (such as Britain, where companies intend to start producing gas through fracking) Japan is adding to the mountain of fossil fuels we cannot responsibly burn. The brave new technology it has developed, now lauded in the media, would be worthless in a world that took climate change seriously.

The Ecological Crisis, Socialism, and a New Society

Click here to access article by Murray Bookchin from New Compass (Norway).

Bookchin (1921-2006) was one of the most profound thinkers on the left in the US, but was mostly ignored even by the left during his time. Fortunately, other leftists throughout the world are reprinting articles like this which was published in 1994.
...the most fundamental route to a resolution of our ecological problems is social in character. That is to say, if we are faced with the prospect of outright ecological catastrophe, toward which so many knowledgeable people and institutions claim we are headed today, it is because the historical domination of human by human has been extended outward from society into the natural world. Until domination as such is removed from social life and replaced by a truly egalitarian and sharing society, powerful ideological, technological, and systemic forces will be used by the existing society to degrade the environment, indeed the entire biosphere.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Did You Have Any Idea?

Click here if you wish to access the source of this video posting on Thing2Thing
The Sydney Forum opened with a screening from the Wikileaks series: “Did You Have Any Idea?” which has been put together by media artist Cathy Vogan with the help of producer Jake Lloyd Jones. This compilation, tailor-made for the live event, features statements and interviews with Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Julian Burnside, Nozomi Hayase and John Pilger.
The 18:28m video below is reportedly a preview of a documentary called "Crimes of Obedience". I wasn't able to find out anything more about the film as of this posting. 

The video examines the issue of obedience to authority and its role in committing, and collaborating with, war crimes. As I see it, the problem of obedience in committing all kinds of crimes and social injustices stems from the need of any class-structured society to indoctrinate in its citizens this requirement to show deference to authority figures. This indoctrination is a prominent feature of hierarchy which makes possible the dominance of a few (ruling class) over the many. 


Holder Claims He Can't Prosecute the the Banks Because It Would Negatively Impact the Global Economy

Click here to access article by Robert Oak from The Economic Populist.

This piece provides a nice followup of my posting "How Many Billions Of Drug-Laundered Money Does It Take To Shut Down A Bank?" on March 9th. Here we see Obama appointee Attorney General Eric Holder of the Justice Department testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Department's failure to significantly prosecute financial institutions. 

The article provides a transcript of Sen. Grassley's opening statement at the beginning of the hearing. The video in the article and reproduced below was during the later question and answer section of the hearing. 

In this video we hear Sen. Grassley of Iowa ask Holder about the department's failure to criminally prosecute banks and people in financial institutions who violated laws. Holder answered with a general statement about the concern of economic impact of banks that were too big to fail, and that this did inhibit prosecutions of institutions. He did not respond about failure to prosecute individuals of these institutions and Grassley did not followup with questions about the latter failure or any other aspects of Holder's general statement. (I listened to the full video recording of the hearing.) 

This gentle questioning of Holder by Grassley illustrates to me that Grassley, unlike Sen. Elizabeth Warren of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee, knows that he is up against some "too powerful to challenge" forces behind the scenes, and that it would be wise for his career to not aggressively question Holder.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Fracked-up USA Shale Gas Bubble

Click here to access article by F. William Engdahl from Veterans Today

This is lengthy, but well documented and reasoned in support of his thesis.
There’s only one thing wrong with all the predictions of a revitalized United States energy superpower flooding the world with its shale oil and shale gas. It’s based on a bubble, on hype from the usual Wall Street spin doctors. In reality it is becoming increasingly clear that the shale revolution is a short-term flash in the energy pan, a new Ponzi fraud, carefully built with the aid of the same Wall Street banks and their “market analyst” friends, many of whom brought us the 2000 “dot.com” bubble and, more spectacularly, the 2002-2007 US real estate securitization bubble. A more careful look at the actual performance of the shale revolution and its true costs is instructive.
By reading this article you will find out about little reported facts such as the "Haliburton Loophole", you will learn about fossil-fuel industry connected people whom Obama appointed to a commission set up to examine dangers of shale fracking, and facts from industrial sources which belie optimistic projections of a new fuel bonanza.

Facing the Threat of the Trans-Pacific Treaty

Click here to access article by Raul Burbano, Kristen Beifus and Manuel Pérez-Rocha from Tyee (Canada). 

While reporting on the latest neoliberal effort to remove national trade barriers under Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the authors provide an excellent review of prior trade agreements and their record in creating problems for local economies, creating a race to the bottom for worker wages and working conditions, and forced emigration in search of work.
Free trade creates rich people not rich communities. We have 20 years of evidence from NAFTA... we don't want any more.

Why Are Walmart Billionaires Bankrolling Phony School ‘Reform’ In LA?

Click here to access article by Peter Dreier from Common Dreams.
The corporate big-wigs are part of an effort that they and the media misleadingly call "school reform." What they're really after is not "reform" (improving our schools for the sake of students) but "privatization" (business control of public education). They think public schools should be run like corporations, with teachers as compliant workers, students as products, and the school budget as a source of profitable contracts and subsidies for textbook companies, consultants, and others engaged in the big business of education.
The One Percent are targeting a defender of local control over schools in his district, and are pouring money in to influence the election of a privatization candidate.

What's in the climate change bill?

Click here to access article by Steve Ramey and Alan Maass from Socialist Worker.

While the authors' analysis of a new bill proposed by liberal senators mostly suggests that this is only another ruling class ploy to keep environmentally concerned people committed to the Democratic party, the authors leave the reader with the impression that a "radical environmental movement" can change policies that a capitalist ruling class must promote to sustain itself. It appears that the socialist authors have also succumbed to the neoliberal maxim that "there is no alternative". 

Only a revolutionary movement, one that transforms our society into a bottom-up society ruled by people at the grassroots, can save our ecosystem from destruction. Affirming anything less than that is engaging in pure fantasy; and with time running out, humanity can no longer afford such fantasies.

The G8 and land grabs in Africa

Click here to access article from Grain.

Beginning with an illustration of the difficulties of a local vender in Côte d'Ivoire, the writers provide an excellent understanding of how global agricultural corporations are grabbing lands in Africa and creating chaos in local economies.
...behind-the-scenes consultations between African officials and corporate executives are being facilitated by the World Economic Forum’s Grow Africa Partnership. The partnership’s mandate is to bring business executives from companies like Monsanto and Yara together with African governments to convert the CAADP [Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme] national plans “into increased flows of private sector investment.” 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scientific Assassinations Are Part of the CIA’s Record

Click here to access article by Wayne Madsen of Strategic Culture Foundation.

I don't think that there is any question that assassinations, scientific or otherwise, have been and are "part of the CIA's record". But Madsen's contribution to this issue is his review of the research into bio-weapons conducted by US agencies, and his survey of many nations' leaders who have opposed the Empire's policies and actions and their subsequent deaths due to cancer.
Chavez said the probability of so many Latin American leaders developing cancer at the same time was "difficult to explain".
Of course, we shouldn't forget one of our own labor activists, Karen Silkwood, who was contaminated with plutonium back in the early 1970s by Kerr-McKee corporate agents because she complained too vigorously about nuclear health and safety issues at the plant. Apparently they were in a hurry to shut her up because before she got cancer, she was killed in a mysterious auto accident.  

South Africa’s Troubled Times

Click here to access article by Danny Schechter from Consortium News.

I am posting this article because it illustrates another example of a nation torn by corruption, class war, and deteriorating economic conditions for the 99 Percent in many countries. 

It seems to me that our human inhabited planet contains the germs of revolt nearly everywhere, and it is only a matter of time when various areas break out like boils into open class and/or anti-imperialist war. No matter how often capitalist ruling classes change their superficial images: from an oppressive rule by a Mubarak to an "elected" Morisi, from a Bush to an Obama, or from an apartheid state to a capitalist version of "democracy", conditions for the 99 Percent continue to deteriorate.
The sense of traditional solidarity, class cohesion and community is under strain by a blatant Darwinism with even the poor embracing that core capitalist value to “look out for number one,” as government services – what they call “delivery” promises – falter and fail.
See also my posting of an article entitled "Get Rich or Lie Trying: Why ANC Millionaire Julius Malema posed as a Radical".

Freedom of the Press Foundation Publishes Leaked Audio of Bradley Manning’s Statement

Click here to access article by Trevor Timm and Rainey Reitman from Freedom of the Press Foundation..

 Manning is currently undergoing a series of pre-trial hearings in preparation for an expected Army trial (court martial) in June of this year. 

In the current hearing he was finally able to explain his motives for leaking information about US military's war crimes in Iraq and other related information. While aggressively pursuing the maximum charge of "aiding and abetting the enemy", for which he could be sentenced to death, the US government has been severely restricting freedom of information about his treatment and coverage of these pre-trial hearings. 

...more than two years after their release, the information provided by Manning is used every day by journalists and historians in major publications are the world [sic] to enlighten and inform the public, both in the United States and around the world. In a time when the extent and reach of U.S. government secrecy is unprecedented, and there are credible reports that the government has abused its secrecy and classification systems to cover up numerous illegal and unconstitutional activities, Manning’s actions should be seen as an overdue sliver of sunlight into an overly secret system rather than as a basis for a prosecution seeking decades of imprisonment.
This article provides the leaked full audio testimony of his statement in the hearing on February 28th. You can also read the unofficial complete transcript provided by his support group, Free Bradley Manning. I recommend this briefer excerpt of his testimony in the following 5:08m video provided by Laura Poitras.

See also Daniel Ellsberg's article regarding Manning's testimony from Huffington Post.

Exclusive Investigation Reveals Pentagon Directly Involved in Iraqi Torture Centers

Click here to access article by Livia Bergmeijer from Muftah. (Note: We must also acknowledge the great contributions by whistle-blowers like Bradley Manning and Julian Assange who have sacrificed so much to bring such revelations to light. We must continue to do whatever we can to support them.)
The use of torture in Iraq had destructive consequences for the country’s future, and teaches us one thing: sectarian warfare was not the ‘natural’ result of Iraq’s diverse population. Rather, it was the product of divide-and-rule practices, whether carried out by the country’s despotic ruler or by invading foreign armies seeking to impose their own brand of governance.

Monday, March 11, 2013

We're Fighting the Wrong War!

Click here to access article by Peter G. Cohen from Nation of Change
As I see it, stamp collecting or golf is an interest;  wanting other nations’ gold, oil or uranium is not an interest,  it is coveting, and you can read about it in the Ten Commandments. 
This author is stating obvious observations about government spending, a topic that is currently featured prominently in the mainstream media but always portrayed as excessive spending on social programs rather than military adventures to promote Empire "interests". What the liberal author fails to explain is the reason that this occurs. Spending on weapons to be used to secure access to cheap labor, markets, and raw materials is the most direct route to increase of profits by industrial and financial corporations. This, of course, is what the capitalist system is all about. 

This sort of superficial political criticism is much too common in the US today, and is responsible for holding back real solutions to our many problems.

Can Civilization Survive Capitalism?

Click here to access article by Noam Chomsky from Nation of Change
Within the RECD [really existing capitalist democracy] system it is of extreme importance that we become the stupid nation, not misled by science and rationality, in the interests of the short-term gains of the masters of the economy and political system, and damn the consequences.
Our masters in the One Percent ruling class must continue to obscure, promote skepticism, and deny radical climate change in order to continue milking working people and nature for their obscene profits. There are so many costs, referred to by Chomsky as "externalities", incurred by both profit operations that are never registered in market transactions. Referring to ecological costs, this dean of social critics warns us:
The externality that is being ignored is the fate of the species. And there is nowhere to run, cap in hand, for a bailout.

In future, historians (if there are any) will look back on this curious spectacle taking shape in the early 21st century. For the first time in human history, humans are facing the significant prospect of severe calamity as a result of their actions – actions that are battering our prospects of decent survival.

Get Rich or Lie Trying: Why ANC Millionaire Julius Malema posed as a Radical

Click here to access article by Tina Sizovuka and Lucien van der Walt from Infoshop News

This rather lengthy article provides an excellent illustration of how capitalist ruling classes are very creative in maintaining their system in order to provide themselves with so much power and wealth. Capitalist elites are always seeking alliances with others who can further these common goals. To maintain a system that provides such a distorted distribution of power and wealth requires numerous strategies such as divide and rule, control of a dis-informing media and other institutions of indoctrination, co-optation of opposition, tight control over political institutions to insure that the right people are elected or outright rigging of elections, and police state methods to suppress opposition.

After the colonization of South Africa by white Europeans, a white minority of capitalists established an overtly racist state. Because they constituted such a small minority of the population while ruling over the vast majority of black Africans and "coloreds", their rule in the 20th century was sustained by the most brutal police state methods. This became increasingly untenable. Thus, they decided to co-opt amenable black and colored Africans to join them on the fringes of the ruling class by installing them in government agencies where they could compete over government largess. (This process and key African leaders, for example Mandela, who went along with this strategy were widely celebrated in international capitalist media.)

Various factions arose among black "co-optees" to secure influence in the government and to obtain the benefits of government contracts. This article mostly tells the story of the rise and fall of one player, Joseph Malema, who often posed as a radical to gain popular support for his rise in the power structure.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Revolting Youth

Click here to access article by Byan Palmer from Canadian Dimension.

I prefer to post only very current articles, but this one really contributed toward a profound historical perspective on radical change and youth as its main vehicle. 

In my own youth I became aware of the strong tendency for people to become conservative as they aged. I couldn't understand this: if supporting causes that were just and right in one's youth, why shouldn't this also happen when one grows older? I was determined that this would not happen to me. I have since learned the enormous price one pays to remain committed to social justice in a social system committed to injustice in terms of material rewards, having the means to support a family, growth in a career, social status, etc. 

The problem is that profound social revolutions rarely succeed. Class based systems make use of hierarchical methods to maintain dominance by a ruling class over the rest of society. Such social systems which are ultimately based on the use, or the threat, of violence are extremely durable. And, in those rare instances of success, what we have seen is merely a change of one dominant class replaced by another. Should we lose hope? I think not, as this author reminds us:
History takes these unfortunate and difficult detours. But they are never permanent. Marx once noted that revolution was like an old mole, capable of burrowing deep underground in unpropitious times. Youth is like that as well. It can retreat in the face of repression, and appear silenced and staid. But this is not likely to remain its nature for long.
As I see it, we have now arrived at an historical period in which radical transformation to an classless, egalitarian organized societies is not just desirable, but is imperative in order to save the human race from extinction. 

Iraq War vet condemns a sick and violent system

Click here to access article by Vincent Emanuele from Green Left (Australia).

The author describes his recruitment to the cause of the Empire, subsequent awakening, and transition to an activist against Empire policies.
Vincent Emanuele is from the Iraq Veterans Against the War in the United States. He recently visited Australia to promote the documentary film On The Bridge which follows seven returning service men and women.
This is an edited version of a speech that he gave to a forum....

State of Power 2013 report: 0.001% control a third of world GDP

Click here to access article by orsan from P2P Foundation.
These infographics are produced as part of TNI’s State of Power 2013 report, a visual insight into who is dominating the planet at a time of systemic economic and ecological crisis.

Arabs Join Iran In Fight For "Inalienable Rights"

Click here to access article by Bernhard from Moon of Alabama.
The situation now coming into view is the Arab Gulf countries haggling with the U.S. over their right to enrich just as Iran has been doing for the last decade. That is a great chance for an alliance against the U.S. plans of changing the rules under the NPT.