Democrats are the more proficient facilitators of this unfettered corporatism because they are skilled at hiding economic interests behind political platitudes.See also this piece entitled "Democratic Trade War" from Common Dreams in which we see that some members of the Democratic party are opposed. But keep in mind that an influential liberal Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden (Oregon) has united with conservative Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) to sponsor the fast-track bill. Also, remember that it was a liberal Democratic president, Bill Clinton, that wanted to expand NAFTA with fast-track authority.
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, April 25, 2015
Retired sociology Professor Petras is very familiar with the recent history of Greece, and is very knowledgeable about Syriza, the current party in power. He offers his views on Syriza as it confronts the demands of the European Commission.
Scholar, analyst and author James Petras discusses his relationship with former Greek prime minister, Andreas Papandreou, the impact of Papandreou's politics on Greece, the reasons why he believes that Greece's new Syriza-led government is a continuation of the corrupt old guard of Pasok, and the continuation of austerity and debt repayments by the new Greek government.
This is another contribution to my occasional practice on Saturdays to run articles about lifestyles of the rich ruling classes also known as the One Percent (actually .01 of the 1%, or one out of every 10,000 of us) who, under the rules of capitalism, essentially "own" the economy in which we work--in effect, we all work for them to support their lifestyle.
I hope that by doing this that we don't lose touch with their world and their concerns--you know, to promote better understanding. It is important that we become better acquainted so that we can serve them better and make it easier for them to carry out the daily burden of making important decisions (for us, since we are too stupid or lazy to do this ourselves), decisions which affect whether we go off to war in foreign lands to kill their enemies, if we have jobs, if we live in a home or under a bridge, if we can afford their health care services, education, etc.
Unfortunately, for some reason they tend to hide their lives from the rest of us behind walls of secrecy, literal walls of guarded gated communities, private clubs, esoteric publications, traveling with private jets, etc. We should not let that deter us.
We learn about the fabulous sums that they accumulate (I almost wrote "earn", but that is something you and I do), we often wonder how they spend it; and when you realize that many of them accumulate so much that they will never be able to spend it, you wonder why they go to such extreme lengths to accumulate so much.
In this piece we see a sample of some of the useful everyday products they buy. But if you dig deeper, you will discover that buying such products can't even make a dent in the cache of money that many of them hold. So, this begs the question: what drives them? I will offer my humble opinion.
The concentration of money which is promoted by the capitalist system also brings the possessor enormous amounts of power, and this power is like a powerful aphrodisiac for capitalists, not for sex, but to obtain greater highs from power. This, in turn, requires more money which delivers this potent drug of power. Thus, it's highly addictive and the means with which it is delivered, concentrated wealth, should be totally banned.
These money/power addicts have been known to commit all sort of heinous crimes: moving our jobs to other countries, crashing economies, creating widespread unemployment and related suffering, stealing lands and resources, murder, engaging in wars, etc. Then there is the pollution from all their money-making enterprises that is destabilizing our climate. So, clearly this addiction is thoroughly dysfunctional for our social system and even for our survival. Well, of course, you and I know that our laws, like most all of the rules, are made by these people--so, of course, it's perfectly legal. This begs the next question: what is the most effective remedy?
I'm not sure that the demise of humans is suitable material for comedy. It may serve to trivialize the concern, or it might serve as a good antidote for excessive anxiety about this concern so that we can pursue constructive efforts to avoid this doomsday. You decide.
CNN produced an actual doomsday video to broadcast when the world is ending and it’s incredibly dull. We've enlisted Martin Sheen to help make humanity’s final moments happier!
Friday, April 24, 2015
In this piece Draitser once again demonstrates the best in critical thinking skills by uncovering more evidence to support a "conspiracy theory" that the directors of the US Empire have been planning Ukraine's "partnership" or collusion with the Empire's army, NATO, for a number of years as an ongoing effort to dismember, destabilize, and bring Russia under the control of the Empire. Of course, there is no lack of evidence--there is actually a mountain of such evidence--but it seems that it takes a mountain of evidence to successfully challenge the mountain of lies that the Empire's directors constantly disseminate through their ubiquitous engines of propaganda (here is a current example cited by Jonathan Cook).
Remember back in 2013 and 2014 when those who railed against the US-NATO manufactured conflict in Ukraine – decrying Washington’s and Brussels’ belligerent policies as clear and unmistakable provocations – were called ‘conspiracy theorists’ for daring to suggest that behind the flowery language of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberal European values’ lay an insidious effort to bring Ukraine into NATO’s orbit? Remember how such voices (this author included) were described as ‘paranoid’ and ‘Putin propagandists’ while the United States’ handpicked successors to deposed President Yanukovich in Kiev were described as ‘patriots’ and ‘protectors of sovereignty’? Well, as it turns out, the conspiracy theories were incontrovertible facts, and the so-called ‘patriots’ were (and are) inveterate liars.This sort of aggressiveness demonstrated by the directors of the current advanced capitalist empire is not because of "evil-doers" (although the system creates and promotes people that are inclined to do anti-social acts), it is the inherent nature of advanced capitalist controlled nations to expand in order to meet capitalism's insatiable need for growth. Such nations take on enormous debts in the process of this expansion (current US estimate is over $18 trillion dollars--much of it owed to China which makes them the ultimate target), which fuels more imperialism, which inevitably leads to major wars.
That is precisely why observers frequently compare the system to a cancer which in its advanced stages metastasizes in order to take control of the whole body. It is this nature of private ownership of an economy that is the reason we will see precisely the same tendencies in Russia and China, despite both nations having a significant public ownership sector, should their capitalist economies successfully counter the current Empire's quest to bring them under control. On the other hand, with all of these nations possessing nuclear weapons, we are more likely to see a catastrophic nuclear conflagration with dire consequences for human civilization.
The article features an interview with investigative journalist Greg Palast who tells how he received and verified a memo leaked to him which exposes the machinations of capitalist "democracy" to serve the One Percent, and he also explains their current interest and efforts in fast-tracking TPP (and TTIP and TiSA) through Congress.
The author applies the results of a very interesting research study in order to criticize what too often occurs in activist circles--dysfunctional relationships.
...the issues and factors that splinter communities in the general population -- privilege, propaganda, ego, fear, and so on -- very much exist within the activist world. Radical circles are infested with humans ready to pontificate about justice in the abstract but unready to occupy even the most rudimentary of social skills. This alleged community is devoid of manners, sensitivity, even eye contact. But hey, why bother with basic niceties when there are Instagram ["likes"] to be counted?
As the Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi targets in Yemen continues, notwithstanding a temporary pause, the corporate media narrative about the conflict in Yemen is organized decisively around the idea that it is a proxy war between Iran on one side and the Saudis and United States on the other.This report of full media compliance with the imperial interests of the Empire is another illustration of how carefully managed corporate
USA Today responded like Pavlov’s dog....
For a real report citing US support for the Saudi coalition attack on Yemen and the humanitarian crisis that this support is causing, I suggest you see this piece from a French news service.
FBI tortured US citizen in foreign prison for months for refusing to become an informant, man claims
Evidence is surfacing in a Portland, Oregon mosque to show how the FBI (and probably the CIA) aggressively recruits citizens of foreign origin, mostly Muslim, to become informants on fellow Muslims. Those that resist are subject to being placed on a "no-fly list". I think the FBI likely uses such informants to induce other Muslims in this country to engage in terrorist acts to further increase fears about terrorism and anger against Muslims and Muslim countries. However, one such American Muslim refused to go along, and he claims in a lawsuit against the FBI that he was tortured.
Ahmed examines the current and projected effects of climate change in the form of water scarcity, and finds that many areas of the world are already experiencing a crisis.
Although less developed regions are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate-induced water scarcity, richer Western countries and emerging industrial economies are increasingly feeling the heat.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
This piece exhibits both a profound cosmic perspective and a very naive understanding of current human societies. He starts out by showing how we humans are an extremely unlikely life form in a vast universe of dead molecules.
Such a cosmic vision impels us as humans to recognize our unique existence beyond merely our individual lives and our daily, rather petty preoccupations. Parry confronts us with the stark fact that we humans now possess the means of our own destruction:
There can be a sense of senselessness to the human existence. There is wholly unnecessary destruction, driven by greed or fear or ideology or religion. We have seen plenty of that in human history and especially over the past century, a time of world wars, human-caused global pollution and advanced instruments to deliver death, even the potential to exterminate all life on the planet.Parry sees the main driver of humanity's self-destruction as ignorance, and see his vital role as a journalist to report the truth about human events as accurately as possible in order to prevent the disappearance of our unique set of organized molecules from the known universe.
This is where naiveté sets in. Like so many of today's humans, he seems unable to rise above the profound indoctrination by ruling classes which ignore their role in this orgy of self-destruction. During the last 10,000 or so years societies have been organized into classes of people with some enjoying far more power, wealth, and privileges than others. During this period we have also seen societies plagued by continual wars and crime. Worse yet, in the last few centuries a new driver of our self-destruction has come in the form of an economic system, capitalism, that drives economies to perpetual growth in a finite planet.
The system has now spread so much pollution that the ecosystem is being so dangerously altered that the planet will soon no longer be able to sustain humans along with many other life forms. This system of capitalism has also dangerously affected the health of societies upon which humans depend for their existence. Societies are now so wrecked by inequality, vast poverty for the many amidst fabulous wealth for a few, that wars and crime are now a major menace to societies. Parry also correctly sees a threat from another product of human creativity in the form of "advanced instruments to deliver death, even the potential to exterminate all life on the planet".
Capitalist ruling classes are the ones who benefit from this arrangement. It is they who put their stamp of self-interest on every institution in their societies. The deadliest form of this self-interest are the pervasive deceptions about the realities of their rule and their system. Parry in his quest to report the truth will always be thwarted by his own self-interest and by threats from these ruling classes. Should he report too much truth about their rule and their system, he will be banished to the journalistic equivalent of Siberia--if he hasn't already. He seems completely oblivious to this reality.
After reading and some scanning of this article by a professor at a Swedish university, I think that the professor tries hard to avoid saying anything that will threaten capitalist ruling classes while, at other times, tries to reassure them during his effort to form a rational argument for what is needed to save humanity from its present trajectory of threatening planetary boundaries. He does this, like many academics, by resorting to high levels of abstraction to avoid attacking real actors, capitalist ruling classes, who are intent upon transgressing these boundaries for their own interests of wealth and power. For example, he writes:
The urgency of the challenges ahead demands a two-prong strategy: acting within our current obsolete development framework to bend environmental and social justice curves as much as possible, while simultaneously fostering the longer-term shift in consciousness to values and institutions that equitably integrate people and planet.What he really means here is that we must both work within the existing capitalist system but also work for more fundamental changes that he vaguely references as "values and institutions that equitably integrate people and planet".
To avoid antagonizing ruling classes, Rockström occasionally makes very naive, vague statements like this:
Navigating to a safe and thriving future will require stronger global governance. Increasing the powers of global governance does not, however, inherently weaken local, national, or regional governance. To the contrary, democratic global governance for meeting PB requirements can stimulate innovation, adaptation, and market-based solutions at the local, national, and regional scales. In such a scenario, global governance, local action, and adjustments in the business sector go hand-in-hand; indeed, the interplay of governance levels becomes a necessity in the Anthropocene.And by reassuring them that the "Great Transition" is really not all that tranformative:
...decarbonizing the world by the second half of this century is not only possible (through a wide strategy of energy efficiencies and applying multiple wedges of renewable energy options), but also compatible with economic development. Renewable sources like solar and wind are already competitive (without subsidies) in many economies, and they can and will generate new markets, innovations, and jobs.And here where he seems to want capitalists to eat his cake and have it too.
Our species must thus give up the illusion that a heavy reliance on market-based policy measures—which can, at best, deliver relative, not absolute, improvements—can deliver a flourishing civilization in this century. In place of illusion, we can pursue creativity, combining strategies to nurture the innovation and efficiency of the market with hard regulatory policy measures to set the boundaries of the space in which the market operates.
The Martens brilliantly succeed in revealing the deep hypocrisy of two leading people in our recent ruling class. There is no indication that things have changed with the leading actors of our present ruling class.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
From listening/viewing mainstream media, I learned only about African migrants losing their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. So, I wondered why Parry's focus is on Libyan chaos and the need for Libyans to escape. I've spent that past 20 minutes trying to find out the origins of the African migrants. The earliest report I came across was from the NY Times which reported the sinking on Sunday the 19th of April. This report briefly alluded that such boats were coming from Libya, but only made vague reference to the migrants' origins.
The fatal shipwreck may prove to be the Mediterranean’s deadliest migrant disaster ever and is only the latest tragedy in Europe’s migration crisis. Warmer spring weather has unleashed a torrent of smuggler boats, mostly from Libya, bearing migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa, often fleeing war and poverty for a foothold in Europe.Subsequent reports failed to list any migrants from Libya and abandoned any context which might lead to the chaos in Libya and adjacent areas of north Africa; instead the reports focused on the larger problem of Africa migrants and the loss of lives at sea, the efforts of European authorities to control the problem, the arrest of boat officials on human smuggling charges. Furthermore almost all of the reports failed to disclose that this latest tragedy involved a boat which had sailed from Tripoli, Libya. Here is a typical report of the origins of drowned migrants and the focus on the problem of human smuggling:
In Rome, the prime ministers of Italy and Malta on Monday called for targeted, nonmilitary intervention against Libya’s human traffickers.So, how does one account for the rather uniform context-missing, distorted coverage by Western media? It seems to me that this coverage can only be explained by some kind of deliberate control of media by politically oriented agents. Indeed there is evidence to support a "conspiracy theory" that the likely suspect are agents of the CIA installed in newsrooms of major news agencies: see this, this, this, this, this, and directly from the 1975 CIA's horse's mouth, CIA director William Colby before a Senate committee:
This year’s death toll in the Mediterranean Sea is thought to have already surpassed 1,500 victims — a drastic spike from the same period last year. With the arrival of warmer weather, the number of migrants on smuggling boats has risen sharply, with more than 11,000 people being rescued during the first 17 days of April. Migrants also now seem to be coming from a larger geographic area — from Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Asia; Syria and Iraq in the Middle East; and African nations such as Gambia, Somalia, Mali and Eritrea.
Dolack visits Union Park in NY City for the Earth Day celebration to distribute some anti-trade agreement flyers and discovers the fingerprints of corporations all over the event. His discoveries tell the story of corporate adaptation to environmental concerns. Such concerns stem from what is now a vast accumulation of evidence that the ability of the planet to sustain human and other life forms are now being threatened by the operations of corporations under a system that requires the ongoing transformation of the planet's resources into products for private profit using fossil fuels that are threatening the stability of our climate.
This contradiction is obviously no problem for the public relations departments of these corporations. Their job is to transform perceptions of concerned citizens into images which portray corporations as working to solve such concerns. Dolack explains how they try to accomplish this feat, but also exposes the fallacies of such attempts.
(Note: the graph he displays in the article makes sense only if one clicks on it to bring one to the original source, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which transforms it into a very interesting interactive graphic.)
Every election year we are presented with this kind of foolishness. Politicians in this system that proclaims itself a "democracy" because they sponsor competitive elections between two or more people with the same ideology never tire of such foolishness--but this one might top all the others.
This really happened. As crazy as it sounds, Hillary Clinton is trying to repackage her war-torn reputation into a populist spitting image of progressive icon Elizabeth Warren. The New York Times reports that “Mrs. Clinton pointed at the top category and said the economy required a ‘toppling’ of the wealthiest 1 percent, according to several people who were briefed on Mrs. Clinton’s policy discussions.”
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Manipulating Americans to organize or protest against their own interests is the sine qua non of big corporate front groups. These groups are alternately known as astroturf organizations because the grass in “grassroots” is fake turf.
Just how fake that turf is came into crisp perspective on April 2 when Christine Stapleton, an investigative reporter at the Palm Beach Post, revealed that a protest rally called by the Tea Party of Miami and Florida Citizens Against Waste used paid actors from the Broward Acting Group as faux protesters.
This independent Irish journalist offers his views on Western media.
The frantic spell of Western media behaviour could be a case-study in how it is centrally manipulated with a political agenda and thought-control. Editors at major Western media corporations are evidently following a political line cast by [ruling class directors in] Washington and its European allies.
The multi-billion-dollar Western news media networks are replete with an unquestioning, unwavering anti-Russian agenda. This agenda is recklessly inflaming international tensions to the point of inciting further conflict and even an all-out global war.
Although our capitalist masters impugn any attempt by the Ninety-Nine Percent to discern what our masters are doing in various secret gatherings by the derisive labeling of such efforts as pursuing "conspiracy theories", numerous leaks from whistleblowers and inside observers have supplied abundant evidence that our masters are always engaged in conspiring to promote their interests which are often at the expense of our interests.
Such collusive discussions and planning (conspiring) by our ruling masters is clearly an ongoing activity and is an integral part of class conflict or class struggle spotlighted by social critics in the 19th century such as Karl Marx. Unfortunately after so many decades of brainwashing, it seems that most working people in the US believe this mythology of "conspiracy theories" (which is itself the product of a conspiracy designed to delude people) and uncritically absorb most explanations given by our masters about their policies and actions as interpreted through their ubiquitous media and other institutions. The fact that important decisions are made in secret behind closed doors doesn't seem to make a dent in this majority acceptance of ruling class views of reality.
In this article (which will never be reported in mainstream media, therefore it doesn't exist) we see leaked information that clearly shows how this TTIP trade policy, like all neoliberal policies, will further compromise the anemic processes of really existing democracy in Europe, that is, capitalist (aka bourgeois or liberal) democracy to serve the interests of ordinary people.
...the reality of Ukrainian fascism is obscured by vague assertions that such conclusions are merely “Russian propaganda,” that they are simply Kremlin talking points, and not statements of objective reality.Draitser puts the spotlight on the important role that Nazi oriented figures are playing in Ukraine to serve the US Empire in its attempt to destabilize Russia and bring it under the Empire's control. However, his cynical perspective distorts and obscures some realities about democracy and capitalist rule.
Indeed, influential political figures...and global media brands like The Guardian and FOX, have all rushed to the nearest camera or twitter account to proclaim that Ukraine is “free” and that we should “stand united” with it. Carefully embedded in these pleas is the notion that Ukraine is democratic, and that whatever “ultra-nationalists” – coded language for fascists and Nazis – exist, are merely a marginal influence at best.
Such vacuous statements belie the inescapable fact that Nazis make up an important strata of both the political and military establishment. Moreover, they are intended to provide cover for US policy which provides these elements with the support they need to both influence the political development of the country, and prosecute its illegal war against the people of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Draitser evidently accepts capitalists' version of democracy (here I am wrong--see the comments section) as real democracy and obscures the pronounced capitalist affinity for the authoritarian methods of fascism whenever their class rule is at all threatened or whenever it advances their interests. If you need further clarification on this latter assertion, I suggest that you read some of my previous posts (especially my commentaries) here, here, and here.
For decades the suited and booted economic hitmen of organisations such as the IMF and World Bank have subjected some of the world’s poorest countries to a brutal process of neocolonial wealth extraction. Across vast swathes of Africa, Asia and Latin America they created an economic wasteland and called it progress.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing of the federal building in which 168 people died. Officials labeled it as a "terrorist" attack in which a truck loaded with explosives was parked in front of the building and caused the destruction of the building and the deaths of people inside.
This was the first of many such "terrorist" incidents that would create a sense of alarm and fear among Americans who soon saw many of their civil liberties compromised by new legislation such as the Patriot Acts and the beginning of many endless wars in the Middle East and Eurasia.
In his rapid-fire delivery Corbett satirizes the official story by pointing out many contradictions, unexplained coincidences, and implausible aspects of the official version of this incident.
The fight over Fast Track just got real.
U.S. House and Senate leaders announced Thursday afternoon that they have reached a deal on legislation aimed at jamming the Trans Pacific Partnership through Congress.
The so-called Fast Track bill (The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, TPA-2015), which would make it easier for President Barack Obama's administration to negotiate trade deals by preventing Congress from amending them....
Sunday, April 19, 2015
In this piece Todhunter touches on what I regard as the great secret of the US Empire's success: the manufacture of illusions. The latter has had considerable success with not only the American population but (as I've more recently become aware) also with people throughout much of the world. Because WWII left much of the industrialized world in shambles while leaving the US's industry intact along with a powerful military, American power and influence came to be felt throughout the world. What I think has been under appreciated is the profound role that cultural propaganda played in the post-war ascendance of the US Empire. It appears to me that much of this culture of illusions was spread mostly by relatively cheap Hollywood movies that were broadcast via TV stations in foreign countries, shown in cinemas, and reinforced by well designed propaganda campaigns waged through formal propaganda organs of Voice of America and other radio stations funded by the CIA.
Political as well as the broader technology of cultural propaganda has been a major tool in the arsenal of the American ruling class after it was first used so successfully during WWI to transform the strong opposition of an American public against involvement in the European war into one of active support. A key figure in this effort was Edward Bernays who was hired by President Wilson for precisely that purpose. Behind Wilson stood the real managers of the US nation: the bankers of Wall Street.
Major US banks, particularly the J. P. Morgan bank, had lent enormous amounts of money (see "Business considerations" at this link) to England and France to finance military expenditures in their war with Germany and Austria-Hungary which began in 1914. In fact, the "House of Morgan" was designated by both England and France as their agent in selling war bonds to American investors amounting to half a billion dollars in addition to the direct loans by the banks. Thus, the ruling US capitalist class, which had already concentrated their ownership over every important economic enterprise, had a lot of money invested (several billion dollars) in their bet on England and France winning the war. By 1917 the war did not look good for these countries; thus the US ruling class led by major banks decided that the US would have to enter the war to insure that the Allies would win, and their debts repaid. However, there was one major problem: public opinion in the US was very much against participating in the war, and something had to be done to change that.
That "something" was a major publicity campaign. J. Pierpont Morgan and Company were not merely a leading bank in the US, they had major holdings in nearly every sector of the US economy. Collectively, all these holdings comprised what was called the "House of Morgan". Also, major industrial corporations such as Bethlehem Steel saw the potential for huge profits if the US entered the war. Thus, the US ruling class led by financial and industrial corporations initiated a publicity campaign to get the American public on board with their interests.
The campaign went into high gear building on the sensationalism of the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania, a British luxury passenger ship, by German U-Boats because it was known by the Germans to be carrying munitions to Europe, but for some strange reason (sarcasm) it was unknown to US passengers. Obviously, it was known to the British and must have been known to US authorities. This was another successful false-flag event used to engage the American people in support of a war.
Anyway, to make a long story short, the ruling class learned from this success the tremendous value of what they referred to euphemistically as "public relations" founded by Edward Bernays. The latter developed into a major industry which has greatly expanded ever since then to what it is now: a very sophisticated and coordinated method used by the directorate of the ruling class to not only induce Americans to buy their products but to shape US and world public opinion and values to conform to their interests using every institutional means: education, media, and entertainment.
Kellner describes how media uses spectacle entertainment to induce passivity among its viewers. I have a problem with this limited portrayal of media. This use of spectacle just doesn't happen by accident--it serves a ruling class interest which the author completely ignores. It serves the ruling class by inducing acceptance of a passive citizen role in society which allows the ruling class to rule.
Capitalist society separates workers from the products of their labor, art from life, and consumption from human needs and self-directing activity, as individuals passively observe the spectacles of social life from within the privacy of their homes. The situationist project by contrast involved an overcoming of all forms of separation, in which individuals would directly produce their own life and modes of self-activity and collective practice.Then he could have followed this up with a development of the concept of "situationist project". Apparently he does this in the book he's authored entitled Media Spectacle.