With no apparent irony or conspicuous public approbation U.S. President Barack Obama is making his pitch for the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) ‘trade’ deal at Nike headquarters in Portland, Oregon. With the promise of ten thousand new jobs to be created in the U.S. if the TPP is passed, left unaddressed is precisely whose wages would be ‘adjusted’ to fit Nike’s plantation / sweatshop business model.
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, May 9, 2015
Welton reveals the religion that really guides people's lives in capitalist countries. This religion also has a holy trinity: private (economic) property, markets, profits. It was originally the religion of only a tiny minority of European burghers 300-400 years ago, but the practice of their religion resulted in the accumulation and concentration of vast wealth which has over time given this minority the power to put their stamp of interests and beliefs on every institution of our societies.
Yes, capitalism is today's religion; its values and beliefs guide all significant actions in today's world. They have accomplished this by stealth so that few people are aware of how their religion has taken control of the way we think and live. Hence, few of us realize that this tiny sect has grown into a monster that is devouring our lives and our planet.
Doesn’t everyone know that the god we serve requires clear cut forests, depleted oceans, empty oil wells, toxics dumped into the biosphere? ....
Everyone also knows, deep down, in their heart of hearts, that the god we serve actually has no life of its own. In Capital, volume 1, Marx imagined that the god of the market was like a vampire who “lives only by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.” This monster feeds on the life force of the natural and human worlds. It needs men and women as slaves who have energy and the motivation to work endlessly with others to produce the goods.
Friday, May 8, 2015
Dolack reviews the claims by Danish authorities that their country is leading the way to a future in which the world will transform its dependence on fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy. That's right, we don't have to worry about the future and just go about our business as usual. He then exposes this as another big lie--no doubt one whose propagators are desperate capitalist agents or paid by such agents to spread the big lie.
For anyone who has been exposed to the behavior of alcoholics or drug addicts, this is very familiar behavior. I'm referring to the extreme denial behaviors that such people engage in to prevent other people from knowing about their addiction and their path to self destruction. One knowledgeable source describes such behaviors this way:
- Drastically underestimating how much you drink
- Downplaying the negative consequences of your drinking
- Complaining that family and friends are exaggerating the problem
- Blaming your drinking or drinking-related problems on others
Such behavior can be explained by the interests of ruling classes in today's world. They enjoy unprecedented power due to the enormous wealth that their system of capitalism creates for them. They refuse to give up on their system in spite of a vague awareness that it requires infinite growth, and that this is incompatible with a finite planet.
Dolack exposes the reasons why such optimism from Danish authorities completely obfuscates and/or denies the realities behind alternative energies and their use in a system that promotes consumption. This leads him to the following conclusion:
The conclusion necessary to be drawn isn’t that we shouldn’t switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources as quickly as reasonably possible. Of course that should be done. But it is a delusion to believe that doing so in itself is a magic wand to wish away the growing crises of global warming, environmental degradation and resource depletion. There is no alternative to drastically reducing consumption of energy and material goods, an impossibility under capitalism, and bringing into existence a sustainable economic system.
All incentives in capitalism are for endless growth; it can’t function without it. Because of this expansionary imperative, that production is for private profit rather than human need and that enterprises are able to externalize environmental costs, decreases in energy prices are an incentive to increase energy usage, which is what has been happening. An economy that must expand will do so — introducing efficiencies can slow down the increase in energy consumption and resource depletion, but an ever expanding economy will ultimately use more energy, more resources.
The author see the many symptoms of drought that are occurring today in many parts of the world as a stark warning of worse things to come. And, he understands what is causing anthropogenic global warming (AGW) which, in turn, is creating these droughts.
Capitalist carbon man is incapable of monetizing the true value of the earth’s ecological systems because he operates within an economic paradigm that forces him to externalize costs at every turn, leaving the eco-costs of burning ancient carbon to present and future generations. As long as a good’s price signal fails to ‘internalize’ these eco-costs, then price signals will fail to alter social behavior on a scale necessary to avoid climate catastrophe and social collapse. There is no viable free market solution for irreversible glacial melt, acidifying oceans, exponential SLR, or the accelerated 6th mass extinction. Alternative energy will not stop what has already been set into motion. Climate change is market failure writ large for a bubble civilization that is so far off into overshoot that the marketing slogan of a “green, sustainable future” has become a cruel joke.
The article introduces us to a book that offers some of the most penetrating insights on our current and projected climate crisis and the destruction of our biosphere. I am referring to Richard Smith's Green Capitalism: The God that Failed. This is an excerpt from his book.
Why are we marching to disaster, “sleepwalking to extinction” as the Guardian’s George Monbiot once put it? Why can’t we slam on the brakes before we ride off the cliff to collapse? I’m going to argue here that the problem is rooted in the requirements of capitalist reproduction, that large corporations are destroying life on earth, that they can’t help themselves, they can’t change or change very much, that so long as we live under this system we have little choice but to go along in this destruction, to keep pouring on the gas instead of slamming on the brakes, and that the only alternative – impossible as this may seem right now – is to overthrow this global economic system and all of the governments of the 1% that prop it up, and replace them with a global economic democracy, a radical bottom-up political democracy, an ecosocialist civilization. I argue that, although we are fast approaching the precipice of ecological collapse, the means to derail this trainwreck are in the making as, around the world we are witnessing a near simultaneous global mass democratic “awakening” as the Brazilians call it, almost a global uprising from Tahir Square to Zacotti Park, from Athens to Istanbul to Beijing and beyond such as the world has never seen.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Escobar provides more evidence that the Empire's "war on terror" is a fraud. Escobar provides links that I seldom pass up, and one link led me to a fascinating 40:42m audio interview (with transcript) conducted by German journalist Lars Schall with the former head of the U.S. State Department's visa bureau from 1987 and 1989 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, J. Michael Springmann. If you have the time, I urge you to listen to it.
In the interview he provides details of his experience as a consular office who issued visas in Saudi Arabia and the conflicts he had with his bosses over his refusal to issue visas to many people who clearly didn't qualify. He was eventually fired for this. Since then Springmann's research has produced substantial evidence that this consular office gave these questionable visas to thousands of people who ended up fighting in various terrorist outfits from Bosnia to Syria.
Toward the end of the video Schall asks him "Is al Qaeda some kind of useful idiot in a greater geopolitical scheme? .... ...is the whole “War on Terror” a fraud?" The following is most of Springmann's answer:
...it’s these guys are there and they are America’s creatures, they may not be under direct control but they are controlled and they are useful to American purposes, which is essentially to keep the Middle East totally out of control to eliminate any kind of threat in Israel by splitting Iraq into pieces, they haven’t quite succeeded yet, but it’s only a matter of time I think, until they get the north away and then I think the whole country will come to unravel but Iraq no longer is a functional viable country, it’s a failed state.
They have done the same thing to Afghanistan and they have done it to Syria. Syria still has a functioning government of sorts, but the country is so ravaged, I am always sorry when I was in Syria, that I didn’t see more of the country than I did because other than, maybe, downtown Damascus, the rest of the country has been destroyed by the Americans and these people they recruited, like the al-Nusra Front, which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization, yet the American government supports and trains and arms them. So, yes, I mean they are useful, they are not idiots, these are the same guys that fought in the Muslim republics on the other side of the Amu Darya River and they fought in Yugoslavia, they fought in Libya, they fought in Iraq and they are fighting in Syria.
Both conservative and liberal ‘news’ media misrepresent U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed international trade-deals as if they were about only such things as lowering tariffs and reducing national trade-protectionism — which are relatively minor surface-features of these huge proposed treaties: TTIP with Europe, TPP with Asia, and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement).
Not sure how valuable this piece is to my blog's mission, but as an anti-Vietnam War activist I must respond in the way I and most of my fellow activists saw the news coverage. First of all, I don't cast blame on most journalists and North seems rather defensive in this piece. Journalists know what their bosses want like all "good" employees. Some will try to tell the truth, but some will easily cave in to pressure and the considerations about their careers in corporate media and engage in self-censorship.
In any case from my perspective at the time, the war was covered abominably. I was a student at a university whose library I often made use of. By reading foreign coverage and alternative news sources I soon learned the main truths about the war, and that corporate coverage was all a pack of lies. I and my fellow activists started handing out I.F. Stone's Weekly report to other students so that they could learn the truth.
I won't go through the thousands of lies that were told, but the big lie was that Vietnam was a weak domino that would soon fall prey to the nearby Chinese "commynists". And anti-communism was the primary theme that motivated all actions by the embryonic US empire. It became the new religion and anyone in the US who didn't subscribe to its teachings were essentially excommunicated, and those abroad were subject to invasion and occupation.
In reality the Vietnamese were fighting for independence and they had no fondness for the Chinese--North reports that such feelings still exist even today. They had been fighting for independence ever since the end of WWII, first against the French colonialists who were supplied with generous US military aid, and then directly against the US when we took over from them. The leaders initially had a general fondness for the US and even used our Declaration of Independence as a model for their own constitution. Ho Chi Min appealed to Truman for help in securing Vietnam's independence from French colonial rule. Yes, he had joined many Communist parties both in Vietnam and China, but it was because they were leading the fight against foreign domination. So, what happened after the Vietnamese forced us out of their country, and what kind of economy do the Vietnamese have now? I rest my case.
Today, the lies spread by corporate media and Empire directors are worse than ever before.
What is at stake in Greece is the possibility of a radical change and the opening of a route towards a political overturn and emancipation of its people, its working classes, but also the future of workers across Europe.
The fear of Grexit should cripple us no longer. The time has come to make it clear for a start that whatever funds are channeled under the new legislation into the public coffers are earmarked for coverage of public and social needs and not for payments to lenders.
The time has come to put an end to the soporific waffle about “negotiations going well” and “agreements on the way.”
Another month, another carbon dioxide record. This time the record extends beyond the rocky slopes of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, home to the most storied carbon dioxide record, and includes 39 other sites around the globe to paint a troubling picture of a greenhouse gas rise with no signs of slowing down.
For the first time since record keeping began, carbon dioxide levels have surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) globally, according to newly published data for March. [my emphasis]
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The Wars Come Home: A Five-Step Guide to the Police Repression of Protest from Ferguson to Baltimore and Beyond
Last week, as Baltimore braced for renewed protests over the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) prepared for battle. With state-of-the-art surveillance of local teenagers’ Twitter feeds, law enforcement had learned that a group of high school students was planning to march on the Mondawmin Mall. In response, the BPD did what any self-respecting police department in post-9/11 America would do: it declared war on the protesters.He continues on to describe how they responded to the anticipated protests, and then provides a general strategy that ruling class authorities use "to police a protest movement in the new age of domestic counterinsurgency". Yes, it appears we will soon arrive at a globalized world in which domestic dissidents will be treated like foreign populations who are under occupation by the armies of the Empire.
This might seem at first glance like an overly biased, overly cynical view of the police. But, I think this glossary is an accurate portrayal of the functions of policing that poor people, especially poor people of color, face daily in their communities. What is seriously needed are reports from whistleblowers in the ranks of the police, other enforcement authorities, and knowledgeable observers that reveal the details behind this reality.
Is it accidental that policing has become more aggressive and brutal as society has become increasingly divided into a small class of super-rich and vast numbers of poor? I think not. Policing, like all institutions of society, has always been about protecting the interest of the ruling capitalist class. As more people become disposable and angry in this system, we will continue to see an escalation of such tactics until poor areas of the US become like any other nation under armies of occupation, or until we end this barbaric system and construct a real egalitarian and democratic system which owns and controls the economy for the benefit of everyone.
Spratt has noticed that elites are increasingly advocating normalising policies consistent with 3°C of warming, and wonders about his own sanity.
Because I spend quite a lot of time following climate science closely and trying to understanding its political manifestations and representations, it's easy to feel that I am living in a parallel universe. There is the world of the scientific evidence, that climate change is already dangerous and 2 degrees Celsius (2°C) of warming would be an uncontrollable disaster.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Council on Foreign Relations’ Grand Strategy: China Must Be Defeated, The TPP Is Essential to Undermining China
I've spent too much time this morning looking at various articles which suggest that the directors in the ruling class are engaged in a debate about what to do about China, and the trend of the debate appears to favor the position expressed in a lengthy exposition issued by the Council of Foreign Relations, a primary ruling class organization, entitled "Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China". I was reviewing this document along with several others of a similar nature when I came across this article by Zuesse which I believe adequately addresses the main themes of the document. (The similar articles I was reviewing are posted here and here.)
It is clear from both my reading and Zuesse's that the TPP is an important component of this containment strategy toward China, and thus we can expect that "fast-tracking" it through Congress will be pursued very aggressively. What is striking is that the authors of this document criticize Obama administration policies as not being sufficiently aggressive!
The report’s “Recommendations for U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China” urges Congress to “Deliver on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, … as a geoeconomic answer to growing Chinese economic power and geopolitical coercion in Asia,” but it fails to mention that the Obama Administration has already embodied the authors’ viewpoint and objectives in the TPP, which Obama created, and which cuts China out; it could hardly be a better exemplar of their agenda.This article lends support to the argument I advanced in my commentary of a recent posting entitled "China and the New World Order":
Today, we are seeing some people (such as Kissinger) in the ruling capitalist classes who realize the inherent dangers of trying to dominate China, that in this nuclear age a war would be far too devastating to contemplate, and thus they would like to reach an accommodation with Chinese and Russian leaders. Capitalist ruling classes are not monolithic with regard to strategies for enhancing their wealth and power. There are many others, often in the ranks of neoconservatives, who think otherwise. They are pursuing policies of aggressive containment with both Russia and China. From all appearances, I think that they are the dominant faction among the Empire's directors.
There seems to be a sense of urgency to Washington’s new focus on Central Asia. Russia is hardly buckling under from US and EU financial sanctions; rather she is looking more vibrant than ever, making strategic economic and military deals seemingly everywhere. And Russia’s Eurasian neighbor, The Peoples’ Republic of China, is laying plans to build energy pipelines and high speed rail links with Russia across Eurasia.
Washington appears now to be responding.
The problem with the Washington neoconservatives is that they aren’t very creative, in fact, in terms of understanding the larger consequences of their specific actions, they are rather stupid.
Monday, May 4, 2015
Today is the 45th anniversary when American activists against the Vietnam War woke up to the fact that (what they thought was) their government would kill middle class white American kids if they had to in order to stop opposition to the war in Vietnam. It was a very rude awakening for many of them, and caused a variety of reactions.
Some went underground, joined a mini-guerrilla army (Weather Underground), declared war on the US government, and engaged in bombings of government buildings. Others engaged in acts of individual sabotage like the Armstrong brothers who bombed a U. of Wisconsin building that was involved in military weapons research. Many activists organized anti-war activities directly near military bases to increase political awareness among soldiers, and some became active in underground newspapers. Many of this activist generation were so traumatized or demoralized by the Kent State massacre that they dropped out of activism. Worst of all, most older Americans were so brainwashed by mainstream media that they became like "good Germans" and simply went along with ruling class views.
It was a time when the President called antiwar students “bums” and Ohio’s Republican Governor James Rhodes, in a tight and ultimately losing race, described students against the war as “worse than brown shirts and the communist element and also night riders and vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America.”
A majority of blinkered Americans agreed. Apprehensive and uncertain, yearning for a return to an allegedly untroubled era before the tumultuous sixties, and manipulated all their lives to believe that only an “exceptional” America protected them against Communist and Asian hordes, they supported the shootings, as a Gallup poll reported.
This retired academic describes how capitalist markets work their magic on "migrants" who are really economic and political refugees from disasters of capitalist enterprise in Africa.
In Margaret Thatcher’s immortal words, neoliberal economics “is the means; the goal is the soul of man.” In other words, neoliberal economics was to transform society into a mass of soulless creatures whose god would be the market. Masses of refugees would provide the bodies sacrificed to a soulless world. She didn’t say it, but she knew what the effects of her Mephistophelian plan would be—extreme disparity in wealth and poverty. In short, neoliberal ideology focuses on maximizing consumption and production by reducing the role of the state and letting loose the supposedly self-regulatory forces of the market.
Sunday, May 3, 2015
America, like the fascist dictatorships in Latin America during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, is now rife with police "death squads". Uniformed law enforcement officers now act as judges, juries, and executioners in meting out death sentences on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb; New York City; North Charleston, South Carolina; Baltimore; and other cities and towns across the dis-United States.What poor African-Americans experience on a daily basis qualifies as a police state very similar to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
The student authors at McGill Univerity in Montreal, Canada talk to Prof. Luis Fernandez of Arizona State University and examine some local experiments in Canada. Because conventional police forces have been created to serve capitalist interests, community based policing show promise of serving communities much better until such time as societies can be thoroughly transformed.
Imagining a world without police, however, is daunting – without police, who would respond to emergencies? Who would we call when we see a crime being committed? Despite this, Fernandez doesn’t see a society without police to be that far off.
“Most of our communities already exist without policing. Most of our human interactions are already outside of the purview of police officers,” he said. “Most of the social relationships between people do not require police intervention,” he added.
While a complete abolition of the police system would require a change in social order, some alternatives to the current police system set out to empower people to keep their communities safe, while encouraging everyone to live lives that are free of violence and oppression. A society with little or no policing requires strong community organizations to mediate and react to conflict when it does occur.
Todhunter provides a summary of the most damaging evidence against GMO farming which offers a stark contrast with GMO corporate propaganda.